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Education

Normandy prepares to directly elect school board members in historic election

Candidates for the Normandy Schools Collaborative school board speak to the audience.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Candidates for the Normandy Schools Collaborative school board speak to the audience on Monday during a candidate forum hosted by St. Louis branch of the League of Women Voters at Barack Obama Elementary School in Normandy.

At a forum Monday night, candidates for the Normandy Schools Collaborative’s joint governing board laid out their plans for getting the district back on track to full accreditation.

Community leaders say this is a crucial election for the communities in the district’s footprint; April 5 will be the first time voters will elect school board representatives in eight years.

“It is important that we get back local control of our school district, and this is a step in that direction,” said Enrest Shields, mayor of Pagedale, which is within the Normandy boundaries.

Marcus Robinson, Normandy Schools Collaborative superintendent, speaks to the audience on Monday, March 21, 2022, during a candidate forum hosted by St. Louis branch of the League of Women Voters at Barack Obama Elementary School in Normandy. Robinson, who is serving his role in an uncertified role, said he will step down on June 30 to make way for a superintendent “who is in alignment with (the school board’s) new values, goals, and ambitions for our school community.”
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Marcus Robinson, Normandy Schools Collaborative superintendent, speaks to the audience on Monday during a candidate forum at Barack Obama Elementary School in Normandy. Robinson, who is serving in an uncertified role, said he will step down on June 30.

In 2014, as the district struggled with accreditation and financial issues, the state dissolved the Normandy School District and created the Normandy Schools Collaborative. At the same time, the state formed the joint executive governing board, which is like a school board but has state-appointed members.

In December, on the first day of candidate filing for the municipal elections, the Missouri board of education voted to gradually return Normandy and Riverview Gardens to local control. That process starts with each community electing two representatives to serve on the board. Eventually, elected members will fully replace state-appointed members.

“In my mind, it's a very historic event,” Normandy board President William Humphrey said. “Every other school district across the state has had the opportunity to have a local elected school board, the citizens of Normandy should not expect anything less.”

The election is taking place as Normandy begins its search for a new district leader. Earlier this month, Superintendent Marcus Robinson announced he is resigning at the end of this school year.

Robinson is not certified to be a superintendent in the state, and superintendent certification is one factor in a district’s accreditation status. Normandy is currently provisionally accredited.

Normandy’s governing board accepted Robinson’s resignation and said it was beginning a search, with a goal of hiring a new superintendent before the start of the next school year.

Christopher Petty, a candidate for the Normandy Schools Collaborative board, speak to the audience on Monday, March 21, 2022, during a candidate forum hosted by St. Louis branch of the League of Women Voters at Barack Obama Elementary School in Normandy.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Christopher Petty speaks on Monday during a Normandy Schools Collaborative school board candidate forum.

Governing board candidate Christopher Petty was frustrated that the district announced Robinson’s resignation without also announcing his successor.

“I understand that the superintendent didn't have the credentials, the license, what have you, but there should have been a better process in place,” Petty said. “The students and the families deserve a better transition than just saying this guy's resigning and no one knows who's coming next.”

The forum featured questions from the community, including one on the new superintendent search. All of the candidates stressed the importance of certification.

“You better believe that certification will be very important and high on our list when vetting a new superintendent,” candidate Harlan Hodge said.

Candidates also emphasized other changes that need to happen to get the district back to full accreditation, such as improving attendance and focusing on test scores.

“I feel like things are going to really change because they're going to be getting a new superintendent and a new elected board,” said candidate Marcieta D. Reed. “I think that's really great.”

The district has information about each candidate on its website. Municipal elections in Missouri will be held on April 5.

Follow Kate on Twitter: @KGrumke 

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