Education

Mike Jones talks with education commissioner Chris Nicastro.
File photo: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

As a deadline approaches for approval of the sale of Normandie Golf Course to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, those who are worried about the land disappearing as a place for duffers to enjoy hope the university will keep a pledge to save the course.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

While the University of Missouri-St. Louis is experiencing a hiring freeze because of a projected lack of enrollment for the spring semester, it isn’t just sitting back and accepting the situation.

Chancellor Tom George said Thursday that about 600 students who were expected to enroll for next semester still had not signed up. The school is actively trying to figure out if they are just procrastinating or whether outside factors, such as the unsettled atmosphere in north St. Louis County following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, is prompting them to stay away.

File photo

Because of a projected drop in enrollment next semester after unrest in nearby Ferguson, the University of Missouri-St. Louis said Wednesday that it is instituting a hiring freeze, effective immediately.

In a message sent campus wide, Chancellor Tom George described “widespread anxiety about the region in general and north county in particular” that has had a consequence on area universities.

“Misplaced though it may be,” George added, “it is a perception affecting the community and UMSL.”

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Relatively speaking, not that many students take the Advanced Placement course in computer science.

Out of a little more than 2.3 million students for all subjects, fewer than 40,000 students took an exam for the course last year. While there was a slight uptick in the percentage of minority and female students, the data continue to show a jaw-dropping lack of racial and gender diversity.

Nationally, only 4 percent of all students who took the test were African American and just 20 percent were female.

St. Louis Public Schools

(Updated with interviews from all candidates.)

The Missouri state board of education has narrowed to five the field of candidates seeking to become the state’s next commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After reviewing 12 applications in closed session Friday, the board announced Monday that it would interview:

File photo

Renewed efforts to change Missouri’s law on school transfers look pretty much the same as the bill vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Jay Nixon, but sponsors of the newly filed legislation say events in Ferguson have changed the atmosphere for the upcoming debate.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

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.

John Walker / Flickr

A new effort is underway to fortify the high school to college pipeline for students in St. Louis Public Schools.  

The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, the fundraising partner for the district, wants to raise $2 million to hire eight counselors over the next three years to focus on college readiness. These counselors would serve students at all 15 of the district’s high schools. The highly regarded Metro Academic and Classical High School already has a counselor specifically focused on college readiness.   

Stephanie Zimmerman

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.

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