The crowd was a lot smaller at Wednesday night’s second hearing called by Missouri state school officials into the future of the Normandy school district, but its passion remained strong.
And its message was a simple one: Their school district deserves more time to turn itself around, so the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) should come up with a plan that stops students transfers and helps Normandy survive.
Despite a growing chorus for Chris Nicastro to leave her post as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, the head of the state’s school board gave her a vote of confidence Monday and defended the selection of a consultant currently looking into the Kansas City schools.
Nicastro has come under fire in recent weeks, first for her consultation with an education advocacy group on its initiative petition that included changes in teacher tenure, then from a Kansas City Star story on Sunday.
Missouri's public school leaders are hoping state lawmakers next year will fully fund the formula for the state's K-12 school system, though they know the likelihood is slim. Ron Lankford is Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Administrative Services for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. He spoke recently with St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin about the request and what full funding would mean for the state's 520 school districts:
What is the funding formula and what does it include?
St. Louis schools lost their accreditation five years ago and were soon after placed under state control, but they have improved over the past two years. In 2010 they only met 3 out of 14 performance standards, with six being the minimum require for provisional accreditation. Last year they met the minimum six, and this year they’ve met seven performance standards. State Board Member Peter Herschend (R) says, though, there’s no guarantee the vote will go St. Louis’s way.