(Updated at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 17, with news conference)
Margie Vandeven may be Missouri’s new commissioner for elementary and secondary education, but she’ll enter the job at the first of the year concentrating on some old problems.
One of them, she told reporters in a conference call Wednesday after her unanimous selection by the state board of education, is working for changes in Missouri’s student transfer law, to help protect the budgets of districts whose students are eligible to leave.
When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.
Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.
The Missouri state board of education has a field of 14 candidates from which to choose the state’s new commissioner of elementary and secondary education.
After the board’s open meeting in Branson Thursday, where it approved added responsibility for the appointed school board that is running the Normandy Schools Collaborative, board president Peter Herschend said in a telephone interview that the applications of the 14 people who want to succeed retiring Commissioner Chris Nicastro would be reviewed in a closed session on Friday.
As the appointed board that runs the new Normandy Schools Collaborative is about to take on new responsibilities for personnel decisions and improved academic achievement, it is working with outside agencies to find substitute teachers and help its littlest residents on the road to learning.
Following acceptance by the Joint Executive Governing Board of a proposal that it be in charge of evaluating, hiring and disciplining personnel, the state board of education is expected to approve the new plan at its meeting Thursday in Branson.
Ferguson Commission co-chairs Starsky Wilson and Rich McClure look on as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signs an executive order involving the commission. Well over 300 people applied to be on the commission aimed at tackling systemic problems highlighted after Michael Brown's shooting death.
Missouri’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Chris Nicastro has tendered her resignation as of December 2014 and there will be an important search for a new commissioner to fill that position. The deadline for nominations and applications is Nov. 21, a date that is later than the board chair wanted.
After complaints from teachers and others about how the initial year of the Normandy Schools Collaborative has gone so far, the state board of education wants to give more authority to the local appointed board.
JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri state board of education voted Tuesday to put the search for a new commissioner on a slower track, then had a lengthy discussion about one of the big issues the next commissioner will face – turning around Normandy schools.
Rather than the accelerated process that board president Peter Herschend had favored, in which a successor to Chris Nicastro would have been chosen this week, the board bowed to objections from a variety of education groups that said such a fast track would have left them out of the process.
Updated 1:25 p.m. Wednesday with letter from MNEA president:
Amid indications that the Missouri state board of education may choose a new commissioner next week, school officials throughout the state have urged it to open up the process and consider a wider range of candidates.
The state board already has discussed in closed session the process to replace Chris Nicastro, who has announced her retirement as of the end of December. And the board has several more hours of closed session talks set for its meeting Monday and Tuesday in Jefferson City.