Normandy School District

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.”

(Courtesy of D.J. Wilson)

Cost is factor no matter what you are buying – a six-pack of beer, a pair of jeans, a house, or for a state government, a public education for school-age children.

 Much has been said about the cost of the region’s current inter-district student transfer program. Much of what has been said about that cost has been incomplete, or ill informed.  

The one price tag that’s been floated is $35 million. Let’s break that down. 

bsabarnowl / Flickr

Lawmakers from both the Missouri state Senate and House will meet on Tuesday to collect ideas on how to deal with the school transfer process.

knittymarie / Flickr

With less than three months on the job, Normandy School District Superintendent Tyrone McNichols has a clear plan to regain accreditation from the state and a strong message about the help he needs to make that plan successful.

The main academic components of McNichols' plan involve a new literacy program in partnership with the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a new focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). As part of the focus on STEM, a new science program is being implemented through a partnership with Washington University.

Courtesy Normandy School District

Now that the school transfer process is in full swing, we’re taking a look at the new superintendents who are hustling to earn back state accreditation for their school districts.

Both men have only been on the job for a few months, and facing long odds, they’re reaching out the community to help get their schools back on track.

This two part report starts on the first day of school in the parking lot of Normandy High School. 

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

Missouri education officials are seeking an additional $6.8 million to help Normandy school district.

The State Board of Education approved the budget request on Tuesday. That's the first step in a process that ultimately requires the support of the governor and Legislature to become a reality.

Students started transferring out of the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts this year under a state law that requires unaccredited districts to pay the costs for students who want to attend other public schools.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

After receiving several questions and concerns over students who missed the Aug. 1 transfer deadline, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education has released revised guidelines for parents.

Per DESE’s guidelines, if a student missed the Aug. 1 deadline, parents have been instructed to complete the transfer packet in their home district and notify the district they want to transfer to.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Parents and alumni waved signs in the Normandy High School parking lot, welcoming back students like sophomore Bryce Gales-Smith.

“You can’t walk away when it’s at its worst moment, got to help the school get back on its feet,” Gales-Smith says.  “Get back the accreditation.”

But parent, Marla Smith, worries the district might go broke under the weight of transportation and tuition costs.  

“I think our money should stay right here in our neighborhoods,” Gales-Smith says.

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.     

Cast a Line / Flickr

Welcome to our guide to the Missouri school transfers situation. This document will be updated as the news changes and we gather more information.

Have more questions? Tweet us at @stlpublicradio or leave it in the comments below.

Last updated 1/07/14

What is this law?

Will the law be changed?

Which districts are involved in the St. Louis region?

bsabarnowl / Flickr

On Monday, the Ferguson Florissant School District will kick off its academic year and become home to the second most transfer students in the St. Louis region.  

Sitting between the two unaccredited districts in St. Louis County, Riverview Gardens and Normandy, more than 400 transfer students have been placed in the accredited Ferguson Florissant School District, according to the latest numbers released by the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, which is coordinating school transfer process.

bsabarnowl / Flickr

On Monday, the Ferguson Florissant School District will kick off its academic year and become home to the second most transfer students in the St. Louis region.  

Sitting between the two unaccredited districts in St. Louis County, Riverview Gardens and Normandy, more than 400 transfer students have been placed in the accredited Ferguson Florissant School District, according to the latest numbers released by the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, which is coordinating school transfer process.

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