Education

Supporters of Normandy School District Rally

Mar 15, 2014
St. Louis Public Radio

“Normandy Strong” was the cry Saturday at a rally for supporters of the Normandy School District, whose future is uncertain after losing accreditation and bearing the tuition costs of students transferred to other districts.

Officials estimate the district will be bankrupt in April if millions of dollars in supplemental funding isn’t approved by the legislature. Supporters are hopeful that the district, currently unaccredited, can survive this school year and beyond.  

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 8:45 p.m., Thurs., March 13 with details from final proposal and comments.

This evening St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams outlined his blueprint for building up academic achievement and meeting new standards established under the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5).

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

A task force formed to make recommendations on the future of the Normandy School District will be conducting its future business in public, state education officials said Thursday.

The 10-member panel was named by Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, at the direction of the state board of education. The group held its first meeting on Monday without public notice and planned to continue meeting in private, according to its chair, Carole Basile, who is dean of the school of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Art McCoy
Ferguson-Florissant website / Art McCoy

Updated with interview with McCoy and report on rally: Art McCoy, who was placed on paid leave from his post as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District in November, has resigned from his job, effective this Saturday.

The move was announced Wednesday afternoon in a joint news release from McCoy and the district Wednesday.

The current Maestro en Casa class in Las Vegas, Honduras.
Michael Dulick

You’d have to say, the odds are in his favor. In fact, it looked like a lock, when he talked me into signing him up for Maestro en Casa in Morazan, where he would spend weekends with Fermin and Maria and their kids. They have a very professional program there, directed by Fermin’s brother-in-law Javier, including actual classes on Saturdays that cover the material the students will be working on during the week at home in their “cuadernos” (combination text- and workbook).

DESE website

A state-appointed task force charged with mapping the future of the Normandy School District has begun meeting in private to come up with recommendations for state school officials by the time the legislative session ends in May.

teacher with two young children
U.S. Department of Education

Over the years, many studies have shown the benefits of pre-school and early childhood education. Recently those studies have been re-analyzed and confirmed to be accurate and correct. Thus, many states -- whether the voters are predominantly Democrat or Republican -- have implemented pre kindergarten and early childhood education programs.

St. Louis Public Radio File Photo

With the Missouri legislature approaching its spring break, the Senate has passed a sweeping education bill designed to deal with struggling schools and transfers from unaccredited districts, and a bill addressing similar issues is ready for debate in the House.

knittymarie / Flickr

Can schools cut back sharply on the number of tests that students have to take and still get a good idea of how well they are learning?

The state of Missouri is about to find out.

Missouri's state board of education has reduced the testing schedule dramatically — just a few months after approving a spending request for a testing schedule that would have had third graders taking seven hours of standardized tests each year, and high schoolers taking nine exams in four different subjects.

Once a week, our team of education reporters would like to share stories that look at trends in education here and across the country. In particular, we want to focus on people, research and even gizmos that may help make kids learn better. This week, by coincidence, we all seem to have found stories about the joys and sorrows of testing.

AP exam finds women, minorities MIA        

Normandy website

Normandy’s school superintendent says the district’s finances can be helped if lawmakers would cap tuition paid for transfer students at the same amount that districts receive for accepting deseg students going from St. Louis to St. Louis County.

That amount, about $7,200 a year, is less than Normandy has been paying for most of its 1,000 students who transferred to nearby accredited districts at the start of the current school year. Tuition rates range to as high as $20,000, and the payments have put Normandy’s finances at a precarious point.

Art McCoy
Ferguson-Florissant website / Art McCoy

Art McCoy, who is currently on paid administrative leave from his job as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, is in the running for the position 0f president of Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has learned.

Asked about his candidacy for the job, McCoy said in an interview he did not want to discuss it while his status in Ferguson-Florissant remains unclear. But he did acknowledge that he had been asked by several people to consider the Harris-Stowe job, and he agreed to join the search pool.

DESE website

Missouri education officials say their plan that was the subject of public comment at a meeting Tuesday night is designed to prevent school districts from losing accreditation in the future.

But for most of the night, the speakers and the audience were more concerned with what is going to happen to a district that already is unaccredited and is in danger of going out of business altogether: Normandy.

Normandy website

Updated 5:35 p.m. Tues, Feb. 25, with response from Humphrey:

Terry Artis, an outspoken member of the Normandy School District, says voters should oust three of his incumbent colleagues at the April 8 elections because they are not working in the best interests of the district.

Students from Sperreng Middle School in the Lindbergh School District will advance to the National Science Bowl after winning the Missouri regional competition Saturday.

The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of high school and middle school students to compete in answering fast-paced questions in physics, math, biology and more. Team coach Julie Roy said this will be the second year Sperreng is heading to nationals in the two years Missouri has opened its regional competition for middle school students.

Provided by SLU Law School

Nearly 60 years after school segregation was outlawed, two members of the family most associated with the case say that the St. Louis area student transfers show that the true goals of the Supreme Court's ruling remain unfulfilled.

Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose Topeka, Kan., family was the lead plaintiff in the landmark 1954 ruling, told an audience at Saint Louis University law school Friday that their case was more about equality of resources and opportunity than simply letting black and white students sit together.

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

While St. Louisans celebrated our past this week, the news held hints of our future.  Most significant was a proposal from state education officials to revamp how they deal with troubled districts.

Long term, the proposal would allow state officials to intervene early and with a range of approaches. Short term, the state board took financial control of the Normandy schools – a move that caught district officials by surprise.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio/The Beacon

St. Louis Public Schools is working toward or has already put in place a string of recommendations laid out in a state audit issued in September last year.

That’s the big takeaway from a follow-up report released today from the Missouri Auditor’s Office.  

Courtesy Normandy School District

Updated at 10:26 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, with Nicastro letter.

News that state education officials have taken control of the finances of the Normandy School District was still sinking in Wednesday, but local board members who were willing to comment were clearly unhappy about losing the power of the purse.

Provost Holden Thorp
Washington University

Seated in his office on the second floor of Brookings Hall on the eastern edge of the Washington University campus, Provost Holden Thorp has a pretty good metaphor for what his job entails compared with that of university Chancellor Mark Wrighton.

“You can see the chancellor’s office is across the hall,” Thorp said in a recent interview. “His office faces the park and the Arch and downtown. My office is on this side and faces out to the old quad.

UMSL Photo/August Jennewein

This past fall, a new educational program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities began at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The program, called SUCCEED, is a two-year residential program designed to help students build the skills needed to either find a job or enroll in a degree-seeking program.

The program is the brainchild of Deborah Baldini, the associate dean  for the College of Arts and Sciences/Continuing Education at UMSL, and the president and CEO of St. Louis Arc, Kathy Meath.

Normandy website

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri State Board of Education surprised the Normandy School District Tuesday by voting to take over its finances in a bid to bolster chances that the district would get $5 million in emergency funds to help it finish the school year.

The state Board also directed the education commissioner to appoint a transition task force immediately to develop a plan for the operation of the Normandy Schools starting in July 2014, if the General Assembly fails to appropriate additional funds for the district, and if the district lapses.

KWMU Staff

Much like apple pie and motherhood, everybody wants better schools and higher student achievement. The only problem is that no one can quite agree what's the best way to get there.

Once a week, our team of education reporters would like to share stories that look at trends in education here and across the country. In particular, we want to focus on people, research and even gizmos that may help make kids learn better. This week, we've discovered some high-tech — and low-tech — solutions.

Mistrust of CEE-Trust

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Updated at 3:23 p.m. Mon., Feb. 17, with announcement of new SIU president. Some of the jobs came open suddenly, one at the end of a long campus standoff and still others quietly at the end of long, productive tenures, but they all have resulted in room at the top of the ivory tower:

At least four local schools – Saint Louis University, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Community College and the Southern Illinois University system – have vacancies in the office of their top administrator or did until Monday, when SIU named a new president.

University of Missouri website

Updated 4:43 p.m., Fri., Feb. 14 with Wolfe announcing task force on sexual assault policies and mental health issues.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators has hired the St. Louis law firm of Dowd Bennett to investigate the handling of allegations of sexual assault of a former student at the Columbia campus who later committed suicide.

Missouri House website

Rep. Rick Stream, chairman of the Missouri House Budget Committee, filed two bills Thursday that could help the Normandy School District avert going bankrupt in April.

One bill, part of a supplemental appropriations request, would provide $5 million in emergency funds for Normandy to help the district finish out the year. The other would result in districts that have received tuition payments for students transferring from unaccredited Normandy paying back some of that money to the district.

If school is a preparation for life, then school should prepare students to succeed in life, not just in school. And in life sometimes you have to overcome failure in order to succeed.

Don Senti, executive director, EducationPlus
EducationPlus website

If Normandy School District goes bankrupt and its students are sent to other area schools, the effect would be dramatic both financially and educationally, according to a study released Tuesday by the group EducationPlus.

school buses
Flickr

JEFFERSON CITY -- From the start of Monday’s six-hour session considering a variety of ways to help struggling schools, the head of the Missouri board of education emphasized that the state is concerned about long-range, broad-based policy, not the operations of individual districts.

But as board members heard a number of presentations on suggested reforms, the talk returned time and again to the current transfers out of unaccredited school districts and the impact on the students who live there.

interlocking circle to Normand vision
From the Normandy Planning Document

Anyone who attended DESE’s Feb. 5 community forum may have noticed the same thing I noticed: The plan Normandy School District submitted to DESE on Tuesday, Feb. 4, was nowhere to be seen or heard.

DESE’s presentation was designed to inform citizens of the significant characteristics of each plan so the department could take public input into consideration before making a recommendation to the Missouri School Board. (A PDF of the DESE presentation is available online.)

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