The Normandy Schools Collaborative has hired Diana Bourisaw, former superintendent for the St. Louis Public Schools and the Fox School district, for a six-month consulting contract to help improve the district’s lagging academic performance.
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.
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.
The new Normandy Schools Collaborative has completed one quarter of its first academic year, but if the experience of one teacher is any indication, conditions in the beleaguered district have not gotten any better under the control of a state-appointed board.
“We are all one in song,” said Duane Foster, which is the idea behind Sunday’s #WithNormandy: A Concert for Peace and Unity.
The Normandy High School Choir, directed by fine arts teacher Foster, will participate in the concert at the school, along with an all-star cast of performers that includes Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Julia Bullock, Erika Johnson, Derrell Acon and Jermaine Smith.
As she moves toward her retirement after more than five years as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Chris Nicastro has definite thoughts about what she got done, what she would have liked to accomplish and what her successor needs to bring to the job.
She also – after just a slight hesitation – has a pretty good idea of how, as a teacher, she would grade her tenure in Jefferson City.
“Oh …. probably a C-plus,” she said during a wide-ranging interview this week at the Wainwright state office building downtown.
The detailed form used by Normandy school administrators when they visit a classroom to observe district teachers starts out by saying: “It was a joy to be in your room today.”
How widespread that joy will be as the school year progresses is hard to judge.
One month after classes started, the state-appointed board running what is now the Normandy Schools Collaborative has adopted an ambitious agenda from Missouri education officials that calls for steep, steady improvement by students in the next three years.
As legal efforts continue to open the Francis Howell school district to students who want to transfer from Normandy, a new policy shift has increased the pool of students able to transfer to any local accredited district.
The move raises new concerns about the financial survival of Normandy, which was taken over by the state after transfer costs drove it to the brink of bankruptcy last school year.