Normandy School District

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
(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.

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

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.)

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

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
(via Google Maps screen capture)

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)

Dianitia Butler has been in the Normandy School District her entire life.

The senior at Normandy High School is quick to tell you that it’s been a rough year, and she’s especially frustrated by staff reductions brought on by expenses associated with school transfer.

Despite the challenges, she’ll also tell you that school spirit is alive and well. 

“It’s definitely students coming together as one,” Butler said, who is also the student representative for the school board.   “Seeing that we’re all in this together.”

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