School Transfers

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Missouri state school board praised progress made by Riverview Gardens in recent years Tuesday but postponed any vote that could upgrade its status from unaccredited.

Because the board put off until at least this fall any consideration of making the district provisionally accredited, students living in Riverview Gardens will remain eligible to transfer to nearby accredited schools in the coming school year.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon discusses the district's progress at a state hearing May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Riverview Gardens has made solid gains over the past two years, but Missouri education officials will not recommend that the state board upgrade the district from unaccredited to provisionally accredited for the coming school year.

A better level of accreditation would mean that students who live in the district could no longer transfer to schools in other districts, as they have since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state’s transfer law in 2013.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that the the Missouri State Board of Education acted outside of its authority when it  changed the accreditation status of the new Normandy Schools Collaborative.

Riverview Gardens students entertain before Thursday night's state hearing, May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When he opened Thursday night’s state hearing on the status of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens schools, assistant education commissioner Chris Neale spelled out the two big decisions the district faces.

First, the state school board will decide, as early as next month, whether the district’s progress merits an upgrade to provisional accreditation.

Normandy N
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

The long-running legal fight over the Missouri law that allows students in under-performing districts to attend school elsewhere heads back to court on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals will review how the Missouri State Board of Education handled a classification gray area: How do you accredit a brand new legal entity? And did the state board have the authority to do what it did?

Sen. David Pearce
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the magic of radio to welcome state Sen. David Pearce to the podcast for the first time.

The Warrensburg Republican has entered his final year in the Missouri Senate, as term limits will prevent him from running for re-election.

Contrary to social media speculation, Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t use his final State of the State speech to endorse Bernie Sanders, do a backflip or find the Afikoman.

Compared to those death-defying feats (especially seeking out the hard-to-find Afikoman), the Democratic governor’s address was fairly tame. He stuck to themes embedded within his other seven State of the State addresses, such as a desire to expand Medicaid, freeze college tuition and boost K-12 education spending.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:55 p.m. Monday with Adams not getting L.A. job: St. Louis schools will get another hearing by the state school board Tuesday on their request for an upgrade to full accreditation, while board members will also discuss a framework that could lift Riverview Gardens up to provisional accreditation.

Stephanie Zimmerman

Even as hundreds of students living in the Normandy school district continue transferring to nearby accredited schools, challenges to a court ruling in the longstanding case continue.

The next court date will be Feb. 9 in the Missouri Court of Appeals. At issue is whether the state board of education acted properly in classifying Normandy as accredited when the district became the Normandy Schools Collaborative at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

File photo

After two successes in the General Assembly and two vetoes by Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri lawmakers will consider once more what changes can be made to the state’s student transfer law.

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, who has been active on the issue as head of the the Senate Education Committee, has pre-filed one of three bills dealing with the transfers. St. Louis area Democrats – Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City and Sen. Scott Sifton of Affton – have filed the others.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The words to the Normandy High School fight song take on a different meaning in a new film by Terry Artis.

A 1982 graduate of the school and a former member of the school board of the unaccredited north St. Louis County district, Artis wrote, produced and directed “The Dismantling of the Normandy School District.”

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Updated at 4:10 p.m. with Nixon news conference:

Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday he is vetoing this year’s attempt at a school transfer bill because it doesn’t solve the problems of unaccredited Missouri school districts and it creates new difficulties for public education.

Gov. Jay Nixon's criticism of the legislature was relatively low key. 5.15.15
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated at 9:30 am on Friday, June 6.   

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon plans to veto this year’s version of a school transfer bill, legislative sources said Thursday.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

JEFFERSON CITY -- When Peter Herschend joined the Missouri state Board of Education in 1991, schools in the state were rated in three ways – A, AA or AAA.

But the rankings weren’t based on detailed accounts of how well students were doing in the classroom. Instead, Herschend noted in a recent interview, the factors that went into the classification ranged from salary structure to secretarial personnel to how many fire escapes the buildings had.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Proponents of a fix to Missouri's student transfer process scored a victory last week when they passed a bill that addresses the problem. Among the options parents would have to educate their children are expanded opportunities to enroll their children in full-time virtual schools. But the new potential new choices are raising questions about who will make sure that virtual schools are up to snuff.

State law already requires that virtual schools — which do not have brick and mortar buildings and offer classwork online —  have to meet a list of qualifications that includes having Missouri-certified teachers and offering courses that align with state curriculum standards. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, said the legislation doesn’t make clear whose job it is to ensure virtual schools are following the rules.      


Updated 9:20 a.m., Thurs., May 7 with comments from Education Plus -- Even though it doesn’t make changes in student transfers that could save Normandy from bankruptcy, several education groups urged Gov. Jay Nixon Wednesday to sign the school bill approved by the Missouri legislature because it expands options for students in failing schools.

From left, SheRon Chaney helps her daughters Anandra and BrenNae with homework at their dining room table.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

This week lawmakers put a bill on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk that’s supposed to fix the state’s student transfer law that doesn't include a hard cap on how much receiving districts can charge.

A lack of a tuition cap has rekindled concerns that the cost of student transfers will bankrupt the Normandy school district. And for the Chaney family, who St. Louis Public Radio profiled back in May of last year, it’s just the latest twist in what’s been a roller coaster ride.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

For the second year in a row, Missouri lawmakers have sent a proposed fix to the state's student transfer law to Gov. Jay Nixon.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

As problems with student learning persist in the Normandy school district, and lawmakers in Jefferson City appear to oppose a cap on tuition paid for student transfers, the vice president of the Missouri state board of education said the end of the district could be close.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

From Jefferson City to Normandy, educators are ready to tackle a math problem that is far from theoretical.

If you multiply the number of students who want to transfer out of Normandy in the coming school year by the average tuition that the district will have to pay, will the costs be so big that the district cannot survive?

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Missouri state school officials called a public hearing Thursday night to hear opinions on how the Normandy school district could improve.

Instead, for more than an hour they heard 18 speakers criticize how the state has failed to support the district since appointing a board to run it last year and predict that the schools are doomed to close.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

With less than a month left in the 2015 session, Missouri lawmakers could debate and pass some of the year's top priorities this week.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The Missouri Senate spent nearly four hours Monday night working on two bills that they chose not to vote on yet.

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Normandy school officials say 637 students have signed up to transfer to other districts in the coming school year, far more than the number that officials have said could spell serious financial trouble for the district.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

One of the first things the Missouri Senate was expected to do after returning from spring break was to debate and pass the House version of the proposed student transfer fix.

Since Missouri's state lawmakers are on spring break this week, "St. Louis on the Air" is checking in to see what they've accomplished so far, and what remains on the to-do list.

Four bills have been passed by both chambers and sent to the governor:

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers are heading home as their annual spring break has arrived, but they took time before leaving to tout their mid-term accomplishments.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

JEFFERSON CITY -- Going along with a recent court decision, the Missouri state board of education voted Tuesday to classify the Normandy Schools Collaborative as unaccredited, but it also praised progress the troubled district has made toward greater academic achievement.

The Normandy school district board listens to public comment at Thursday night's meeting
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The last time the board that oversees the Normandy Schools Collaborative held an open forum, Charles Pearson asked the crowd whether this year was going better than last – and was met with an overwhelmingly negative response.

File photo

Missouri education officials are agreeing with a St. Louis County judge that the Normandy school district should be unaccredited, but that doesn’t mean they accept the judge’s ruling.

Circuit Judge Michael Burton ruled in February that an earlier decision by the Missouri state board of education that classified Normandy as accredited was improperly arrived at and that Normandy – which had the worst scores in the state on last year’s annual evaluation – should be unaccredited.