St. Louis Public Radio News
5:32 pm
Thu July 2, 2009

Hazelwood superintendent named Missouri education commissioner

Jefferson City, MO – The Superintendent of Missouri's fifth-largest school district has been named the state's new Commissioner of Education.

Chris Wright Nicastro, 58, has served as Superintendent of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County since 2002.

She says she's committed to meeting student needs, especially those in underperforming schools.

"We cannot afford to allow over seven percent of our student population to be at risk because of where they live...we cannot afford to squander the potential of even one child," Nicastro said.

While talking to reporters today in Jefferson City, Nicastro indicated that she's open to letting some teachers be paid based on merit.

But she chose not to give her opinion of the 2007 state takeover of the St. Louis School district.

"You know, I'm not going to look backward...I think we need to look forward, and we need to figure out how we go from here and make the improvements that are necessary for all of our children both in St. Louis and throughout the state," Nicastro said.

Nicastro will be the first woman and fifth person overall to serve as Education Commissioner in Missouri.

She succeeds the late Dr. D. Kent King, who died of cancer in January.