Historical Background Enrollment History
In response to a 1972
lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 1980 that the St. Louis Public
School Board of Education and the State of Missouri were responsible for
maintaining a segregated school system. In
1981, the Appeals Court directed that a voluntary interdistrict plan be worked
out between the city and the county schools. A pilot program with six school
In 1983, a Settlement
Agreement was reached with all school districts in the metropolitan area that
included multiple components, including the transfer of black city students into
primarily white suburban districts and white suburban students into magnet
schools in the city. Transportation
and tuition costs were fully paid by the State of Missouri.
The preliminary goal for suburban districts was to reach Plan Ratio (a 15
percent increase of all African-American students in the district including
resident students.) The ultimate
goal was for districts to achieve the Plan Goal which was a 25 percent black
In 1999, the case was
removed from federal supervision when a new Settlement Agreement was reached
which allowed for new students to be admitted to the voluntary transfer program
and the St. Louis Magnet Schools through the 2008-2009 school year.
St. Louis City voters approved a 2/3-cent sales tax increase to partially
compensate for state desegregation funds that were no longer forthcoming from
the State under the new Settlement. In
a programmatic change, four attendance zones were established in the city, each
linked with specific suburban school districts.
Transportation is only provided for students who comply with this
attendance area structure. Students
applying to attend schools outside of their residential attendance area must
provide their own transportation.
Beginning with the
1999 Settlement Agreement, county districts agreed to enrollment goals that were
based on the 1998-1999 transfer student enrollment.
In years one through three, districts agreed collectively to maintain at
least 85 percent of the 1998-1999 enrollment.
For years four through six, the target percentage was at least 70
percent. For years seven through ten
(beginning with the 2005-2006 school year), no minimum enrollment is required.
Each of these enrollment goals have been met by county districts.
If full pupil cost
reimbursement fails, a county district may give a one-year notice to opt out of
the program no later than August 20 and return transfer students to the sending
district or students may transfer to another participating district at the end
of that school year if space is available elsewhere within the student’s
Interdistrict Coordinating Council, which oversaw implementation of the 1983
Settlement Agreement, became a non-profit corporation in 1999, and was renamed
the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC).
Each of the 16
participating districts, including the Special School District, has a vote in
VICC business in proportion to the number of voluntary transfer students they
serve. (Prior to 1999, each participating district had one vote.) Only 2 of
these 16 districts have a voting share greater than 10 percent.
Two of these districts no longer accept new transfers, mainly because of
a change in their residential population’s racial composition, although they
continue to serve students enrolled prior to the 1999 Settlement Agreement.
to accept new transfer students include Affton, Bayless, Brentwood, Clayton,
Hancock Place, Kirkwood (siblings only), Mehlville, Parkway, Rockwood, Valley Park, Webster
Groves and St. Louis Public Schools. A few
students remain enrolled in the Lindbergh school district, and students continue to be served by the St. Louis County Special
As of September 2017,
4,235 St. Louis students were attending county schools, and 157 county students
were attending St. Louis City magnet schools.
(At the height of its enrollment, the program served about 14,600
transfer students total.)
For the 2017-2018
school year, the program has accepted 413 new city-to-county transfer students
and 85 county-to-city transfers. A
total of 3,640 new applications were received -- 2,488 for city-to-county
transfers and 148 for county-to-city transfers.
Virtually all of
VICC’s funding to support the transfer program is received through the State
of Missouri’s normal public school aid sources.
These state aid payments simply follow the students to the program.
No special or additional revenues are received.
VICC then uses these funds to provide transportation service and to pay
tuition amounts to participating school districts.
In 1999, St. Louis
City voters approved a 2/3 cent sales tax increase to help fund city schools
(and to replace some of the court-ordered state contributions to the St. Louis
Public Schools under the original 1983 Settlement Agreement.)
The 1999 Settlement
Agreement also authorized two $25 million payments to VICC to cover the
transportation costs of transitioning to a system in which city students would
only have transportation provided if they attended county schools that are
paired with their residential attendance area.
Through 2003-2004, county districts received their respective per pupil education cost in full from VICC for each transfer student. Starting in 2004-2005, annual tuition payments to suburban districts were capped based on overall available funding each year -- which has generally been about $7,000 per student.
In addition to
handling recruitment, placement and transportation for the interdistrict
transfer program, VICC has five counselors (3 part-time and 2 full-time) on staff to assist families and/or
districts if they encounter difficulties as a result of their transfer.
Districts can request the following workshops offered by VICC counselors:
Race Relations through Education (6 - 8 week program for transfer students and
Within Reach (leadership program for transfer and resident minority female
Kit for Young Men (leadership program for transfer and resident African-American
the Achievement Gap
developed the “I Choose Success” curriculum for 6th and 9th grade students
which is available once a week over 15 weeks.
Once a district completes
the VICC training, the district may use the program as they see fit.
Some districts offer it to all students at the entry grades,
rather than just transfer students.
The 1999 Settlement Agreement included language specifying that the program could be extended and continue to accept new students beyond 2008-2009. A five-year extension pursuant to this provision was approved by the VICC Board in June, 2007, a second five-year extension was approved October, 2012 and a third and "final" extension was approved November, 2016. As a result, new students will continue to be enrolled by districts through the 2023-2024 school year. Once enrolled, participating districts have indicated a willingness for students to remain in their district through high school graduation provided they continue to meet residency and other qualifying requirements which means students could participate until 2036.
Learn More About the St. Louis Student Transfer Program
William H. Freivogel:
“St. Louis: Desegregation and School Choice in the Land of Dred Scott,”
Century Foundation Press, 9/18/2002
Gerald W. Heaney and
Susan Uchitelle. Unending
Struggle: The Long Road to an Equal Education in St Louis.
St. Louis, MO: Reedy Press
(Distributed by University of Nebraska Press), 2004.
Amy Stuart Wells and
Robert L. Crain. Stepping Over
the Color Line: African-American
Students in White Suburban Schools. Yale
University Press, 1997.
Home Bridging cultures and communities