Normandy School District

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Even though they’ve been talking all semester, high school junior Meagan Nalepa and senior Shakiyla Hughes have finally sat at the same lunch table.

Nalepa goes to Parkway North High School, Hughes attends Normandy High School, and both have been participating in a series of video conferences on education policy between students from the two schools. For the first time, they met face to face at Normandy High School on Tuesday.

Commentary: Normandy Superintendent Urges Legislature To Act

May 3, 2014
Ty McNichols
Normandy School District

As superintendent of the Normandy School District, I urge our legislators and governor to reform the school transfer law before the end of this year’s session. Getting this done now is critical for our district and for metropolitan districts throughout the state.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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The task force considering the future of the Normandy School District began getting more specific about options Tuesday, including what kind of board should govern the district and whether it should be elected or appointed.

After meeting for more than an hour in closed session with Mark Van Zandt, the general counsel for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the panel began talking about various scenarios:

Normandy website

Depending on how tuition calculations for transfer students are figured for the coming school year, the Normandy School District — if it still exists — could end the upcoming school year with a deficit of as much as $11.7 million, district officials said Tuesday.

Addressing the latest meeting of a task force formed to determine options for Normandy’s future, Mick Willis, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations, presented four scenarios for the 2014-15 school year.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Updated at 8:30 a.m., Wed., April 9.

School board elections brought little change to Normandy and Ferguson-Florissant. In Normandy, three incumbents were facing four challengers for spots on the seven-person board. The winners were current board members Jeanette Pulliam with 19.07 percent and William Humphrey with 16 percent of the vote. A challenger, Gwendolyn Buggs, earned a seat on the board with a little more than 15 percent of the vote.

St. Louis Public Radio

School board elections often prompt little more than a ripple of public interest, but they are stirring up quite a bit more in at least two north St. Louis County districts this spring.

In Normandy, three incumbents are facing four challengers for seats on a board that may not even exist after the end of this school year. In Ferguson-Florissant, two incumbents are facing a slate that was moved to join the field after Superintendent Art McCoy was placed on administrative leave, plus other candidates who entered the race as well. McCoy has since resigned his post.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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On Tuesday, April 8, voters will take to the polls to elect board members for their local school districts. April elections, with their focus on local issues such as schools and municipalities, traditionally have a low turnout. However, the results of these elections have a big impact on people’s day-to-day lives, including the policies implemented in their children’s schools.

DESE website

The Normandy School District isn’t going broke at the beginning of April, as some education officials had forecast in recent months. But that doesn’t mean that the district’s future is secure.

At Monday night’s meeting of the state task force formed to recommend the future direction of the district, officials from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said that Normandy’s future depends in large part on what bills the General Assembly may pass before it adjourns in mid-May.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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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
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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.

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.  

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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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.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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The Missouri House has passed a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Updated 7:41 a.m., Tues. Jan. 28, with details of contract vote.

The Normandy School District, which faces the possibility of being dissolved this spring, is paying a lobbyist $10,000 a month to help persuade lawmakers in Jefferson City to provide enough money to help the district survive until the end of the school year.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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Normandy School District.

Now is the time to change how these three words take on meaning in our collective awareness. As one of the instructional coaches brought in by the district’s new leaders last summer, I offer a couple of images to help outsiders — especially our state legislators and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — see us for real.

12 Years A Slave

(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

Five identical bills that would each revamp Missouri's student transfer law were examined Wednesday by a State Senate committee.

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.

Normandy website

As opposed to the negative vote and heated discussion back in October, Thursday night's bills won approval without any comment, though one member voted no.

The issue was the same, but the atmosphere – and the vote – were quite different Thursday night at the Normandy school board.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public radio

  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.

Cast a Line / Flickr

After traveling the state to get feedback from educators and community members, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education has released its final report.

Among the recommendations is a tuition limit for what an unaccredited district pays when a student transfers to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county.

(Go here for an FAQ on student transfers)

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Board member Terry Artis voted "hell, no" as the Normandy school board voted to approve paying tuition for students who transferred out of the district. The 5-1 vote was made in front of a packed house of more than 80.

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