Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

Residents of the 24 communities that make up the Normandy School District are rallying behind the schools as their fate is being decided in Jefferson City, a task force studying the district’s future was told Thursday.

Chris Krehmeyer, president and CEO of the group Beyond Housing, said that just as its 24:1 initiative has helped revitalize the area in general, with more options for basic services such as banking and groceries, it also has generated more support for the schools.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

As a task force continues its work on how the Normandy School District will operate next school year, lawmakers are moving ahead on appropriating money to help the district finish the current year without going broke.

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri state Board of Education voted Friday to approve a plan to intervene in struggling school districts. It also sent the message that it will become more active in making sure districts adopt policies that will result in success.

The plan, revised from a draft version presented to the board last month, spells out various avenues of support that would be provided to or required of school districts depending on how well they score on their annual performance review.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon)

Updated at 10:10 a.m. Jan. 23 to reflect the correct source of one of the three state intervention proposals.

Members of the Normandy school board are skeptical that any of the proposed new plans for state intervention in academically troubled districts will make a difference in their schools.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Time is running out for Normandy schools in north St. Louis County to win extra funding from Missouri lawmakers this school year.

Normandy and Riverview Gardens have experienced an exodus this school year due to the student transfer law.  Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the House Budget Committee Wednesday that she expects the Normandy School District will be bankrupt by the end of the year.

Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education

A Missouri State senator has filed a remonstrance that calls for the immediate resignation of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education

A Missouri House subcommittee is considering whether to approve more money for student assessment tests under the new Common Core State Standards.

The standards are designed to put in place common nationwide achievement goals in math and language arts.  Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told committee members Tuesday that implementing the Common Core in Missouri has not cost the state any additional money, but that measuring student performance under the new standards will.

comedy_nose / Flickr

Twelve St. Louis area schools with low academic performance will receive a total of more than $6.2 million in federal money to kick start classroom improvement.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, which is distributing more than $43 million nationally to seven states. 

DESE website

Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.

To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:

The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.

(Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Two members of the Missouri General Assembly are calling on Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Chris Nicastro to resign.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A joint Missouri House/Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on whether the state's teacher tenure system is working.

Among those testifying was Mark Van Zandt, General Counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  He says tenured teachers can be held accountable under the current system.

KWMU Staff

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its Annual Performance Report for Missouri school districts last week. It is the first year in which schools were assessed under new standards. The results disappointed many local leaders and leave plenty of room for improvement for a number of St. Louis area schools, including St. Louis Public Schools.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

Because the St. Louis Metropolitan area did such an outstanding job with its first voluntary student transfer program, fortunately or unfortunately they have now been blessed with a second one.  This transfer program however, entails just two suburban school districts, Normandy and Riverview Gardens, both of which are unaccredited. As a result, their students may transfer to another school district in the region.  2640 students have signed up to transfer.     

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