Tuesday, 21 January 2014 02:50
Normandy school officials, parents and students are waiting to see if Missouri legislators will provide the struggling district with the emergency funds it needs to make it through the school year. Officials say without state aid, the district will be bankrupt by April after spending millions of dollars on tuition and busing for students who've transferred out of the unaccredited district.
So what will happen if lawmakers refuse the five-million dollar request and the district runs out of money before the school year ends?
Missouri Education Commissioner, Chris Nicastro tells Fox 2 News if that happens, the Normandy schools would most likely be closed. "In the short term at least, I think the only viable option would be for the state board to assign those kids to go to school elsewhere," she said.
Nicastro says she'll be meeting with Normandy District officials on Wednesday to discuss the districts financial crisis.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 13:32
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri state senator is formally calling on the state education commissioner to resign.
Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, filed a formal resolution Tuesday asking Chris Nicastro to immediately leave office.
Chappelle-Nadal says Nicastro has been "less than truthful" in dealing with the Legislature. She also criticized the commissioner for entering into a contract with a consulting firm to improve the failing Kansas City schools, even though the firm's bid was higher than other submissions.
The resolution also cites Nicastro's assistance with an initiative petition seeking to change the state's teacher tenure laws as a reason that she should leave office.
The resolution has not been referred to a Senate committee. Nicastro's job status can be affected only by the State Board of Education.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 03:16
Missouri education officials are considering a plan that would eliminate the school transfer program by dissolving unaccredited districts like Normandy and Riverview Gardens. The CEE-Trust proposal presented Monday, would hand control of individual schools to non-profit groups accountable to a state-run office.
State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told Fox 2 News that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sought the proposal because the current transfer system isn't sustainable. "Ultimately, any district that ends up sending students to another, with the current tuition calculation, will end up going bankrupt," she said. Officials with the unaccredited Normandy School District have said that without a cash infusion from the state, they will run out of money this spring.
Under the CEE-Trust plan, decisions about curriculum, staffing and budgets would be made at each school. The state-run Office of Community Schools would handle systemic issues like busing and building maintenance.
Mark Jones of the Missouri NEA, a state teacher's union, expressed skepticism. Jones told Fox 2 News that the proposal sounds like a clever marketing scheme. "This just simply looks like a rebranding of charter schools that have demonstrated a lack of accountability and a lack of oversight," Jones said.
The proposal is one of several being considered by the state. The board will gather public input in St. Louis on February 4, then try to make a decision at its meeting, February 18.