Normandy School District

(Erin Williams/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 4:45 p.m. with comments from Francis Howell Central principal Sonny Arnel. Updated 5:39 p.m. with comments from parents and students.

Some transportation hiccups aside, the first day in the Francis Howell School District in St. Charles County appears to have gone smoothly.

Principal Sonny Arnel
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As bright yellow school buses pulled into the parking lot of Francis Howell Central High School on Thursday’s first day of class, the sentiment from students, parent and the principal was the same:

Principal Sonny Arnel said of the transfer students, “You're Spartans, but you're coming from a different situation. What can we do to help you?”

Cast a Line / Flickr

The body charged with placing the thousands of students looking for a better education has released preliminary results of last week's lottery.

The lottery took place after a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that upheld a law that says students from unaccredited districts can transfer to accredited districts, paid for by the failing school.

Numbers Released Surrounding School Transfers

Aug 6, 2013
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Thousands of students are fleeing two failing North St. Louis County school districts, following a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that unaccredited schools will have to pay for students hoping for an education at an accredited school.

The past month has been confusing and arduous for both parents and the organizational body now charged with placing those students, Cooperating School Districts (CSD).

Aligyah Adams and John Mullen
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Shante Buggs is a product of the Normandy District, and she intends to keep her two children enrolled there in spite of its loss of accreditation. But she concedes that the issue has caused a little friction in the family.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The organization overseeing the school transfer process for students in unaccredited districts is still working on placing students Monday. Registration for the lottery ended last week, but Cooperating School Districts is still trying to figure out what to do with those that missed the deadline.

About 2,600 students applied for transfer by last week's deadline, making up roughly a quarter of the student population in the two unaccredited districts.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis (CSD) has placed 2,400 of the nearly 2,600 students who have applied to leave the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens School Districts.

All Normandy students who applied to go to Francis Howell were placed, and will receive transportation paid for by the unaccredited district.

But many Riverview Gardens students who applied to transfer to Kirkwood or Mehlville, the transportation options for that district, did not receive spots because the receiving districts ran out of room.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Education Commissioner Chris L. Nicastro raised questions Friday about the financial survival of the Normandy School District in the wake of the decision by more than a quarter of its students to transfer to schools in accredited districts.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

North St. Louis County's Normandy School District pointed to a variety of things to entice parents to keep their kids in the district: partnerships and collaboration with nearby universities, new technology, and more staff training.

But for the parents of 1,151 Normandy kids, it just wasn’t enough. If you compare it to last year’s enrollment, that means 28 percent will be fleeing the failing school district.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

Three controversies roiled the feelings of St. Louisans this week -- the George Zimmerman verdict in Florida, student transfers in local districts and construction of housing for the elderly poor in Oakville. In each case, the chasms that separated different points of view were so wide that many people could only shout across them.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Just one week after nearly three hours of emotional statements on both sides of the Francis Howell-Normandy transfer issue, the talk at the Howell school board meeting Thursday night turned to calmer, more reflective expressions of cooperation, collaboration – and how the district was going to get paid.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The new superintendent of Normandy schools had a lot of positive things he wanted to talk about Wednesday night, but much of the district’s board meeting was spent trying to counteract something negative – Normandy’s reputation for being unsafe.

Chris McDaniel

The Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling on Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton on June 11 reversed a lower court decision and found that state statute 167.131does not violate the Hancock Amendment. The statute provides that an unaccredited school district must pay tuition for students to attend school in another accredited district in the same or an adjoining county.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If parents who are caught up in the current swirl of controversy over student transfers are looking for someone to blame, Kathleen Brown Sullivan at the University of Missouri-St. Louis says there are plenty of places where fingers should be pointed.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The Francis Howell School district is scrambling to accommodate St. Louis County's Normandy School students after a recent State Supreme Court ruling that students from unaccredited schools can be bussed to accredited schools in the same or adjacent counties.

Nearly three thousand parents attended a Francis Howell forum Thursday night to voice their concerns.

For almost three hours, parents raised a variety of issues - how it'll be paid for, how it will impact test scores and accreditation - but there was one concern that dwarfed all the others: security.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The superintendent of the Francis Howell school district expects to have 600 students transfer there from the unaccredited Normandy district – and if the audience at a packed public forum Thursday night is any indication, those transfers won’t always receive a warm welcome.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Under Missouri's school transfer law, students who live in unaccredited school districts may choose to attend a nearby, accredited district. The sending district must pay the students' tuition and must designate one district to which it will also pay transportation costs. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

News that the Normandy school district will bus students to Francis Howell schools raised a storm of controversy this week. Unless cool heads prevail, it could evolve into a perfect storm -- an ugly convergence of our region's most emotional and intractable problems.

What problems?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: David Glaser wasn’t in St. Louis three decades ago during the height of public opposition to the region’s first interdistrict school desegregation program. He’s learning about some of the old outcry as emotions rise in St. Charles County where the Francis Howell District is preparing to take students wishing to transfer there from Normandy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Cooperating School Districts will act as a clearinghouse for students who live in Riverview Gardens and Normandy and want to transfer to accredited school districts under a law recently upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a lower court ruling in the St. Louis school transfer case, saying that a St. Louis County circuit judge must once again take up the issue over whether students who live in an unaccredited school district should be able to transfer, with their home district paying the tuition.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The superintendent of the Normandy School District in St. Louis announced that he will be stepping down in June.

In a letter to the school board today, Dr. Stanton Lawrence cited personal and family reasons for his resignation. This is his fifth year as superintendent. His contract was set to expire in 2015.

CDC.gov

The St. Louis County Department of Health will receive $30,000 for asthma education and outreach in the Normandy School District.

The grant from the Environmental Protection Agency is part of $1.2 million in funding to 32 state and local governments, tribes, and non-profit organizations for indoor air quality projects.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The Missouri Board of Education has voted unanimously to strip the accreditation from another St. Louis-area school district.

Normandy schools had been under provisional accreditation for the past year, but had been “on thin ice,” in the words of State Board Member Peter Herschend (R, Branson).  He says the district has again failed to meet the minimum nine out of 14 performance standards required for accreditation.

“If you look at the academic results in all of the core content areas, save one, they are at the bottom end of attainment," Herschend said.  "Do I think that’s significant?  You’re damn right I think that’s significant!”

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The State Board of Education has voted unanimously to keep the Normandy School District in St. Louis County provisionally accredited.

Normandy may retain that status for up to a year -- however, the State Board could also choose to revoke the provisional accreditation entirely at any time during the next year.  State Board Member Peter Herschend says Normandy schools are improving, but not enough to warrant full accreditation.

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