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   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.
 
 
 
 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:46

Normandy School District to hold meeting tonight

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling upholding student transfer laws has put this year's transfer controversy back in the spotlight.

Wednesday night, Normandy School District is hosting a public hearing. Last month officials announced plans to stay open, but with layoffs, early retirements, and at least one school closure. The cuts are the result of the expensive transfer process.

Wednesday's hearing starts at 6:30pm at Normandy High School.

 

Published in Local News

   Students in the Normandy School District are getting an unexpected three-day weekend thanks to a water main that burst near the UMSL campus Thursday.  

   The main has been repaired, but a boil order is in effect for about 2,200 Missouri American water customers.  That includes parts of Bel Ridge, Belle Rive, Bel Nor, Normandy and St. John.  

   As a result, all schools in the Normandy School District will be closed Friday.

   Other schools in the affected area are open, but school leaders are asking students to bring a bottle of drinking water with them. 

   The UMSL campus had shut down on Thursday because of the break, canceling day and evening classes. University officials say even though they are still under a boil order, classes will resume Friday morning.  

   Missouri American officials say they hope to life the boil order Friday afternoon. 

Published in Local News

   The Normandy School District will pay the tuition bills for students who've transferred away from the unaccredited district.  The school board voted Wednesday night to reverse its October decision to withhold the funds.  

   Board members had objected to paying the nearly $1.4 million bill because the cash strapped district is already struggling to cover the cost of educating its remaining students.  But withholding of the tuition had put the district at odds with state law, and in jeopardy of losing state funds.

  Parents and teachers again asked the board to reconsider planned budget cuts that will result in teacher layoffs and one school closure.

Published in Local News

   Parents in the Normandy School District plan to hold a town hall meeting Monday to discuss the financial and academic problems in the struggling district.  

   Last week the school board voted to cut more than 100 jobs, including 70 teachers and close Bel Nor Elementary School in an effort to keep from going bankrupt over of the costs of the state-mandated transfer program. The unaccredited district must pay for more than 1,000 students to attend schools in other districts.  

   But the School board voted last week not to pay the tuition and transportation bills associated with those transfers. 

   The Normandy Schools Town Hall Organization will host a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Natural Bridge Branch of the St. Louis County Library.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 24 October 2013 04:43

Normandy to cut more than 100 teachers

   Normandy Schools Superintendent Ty McNichols will outline proposed budget cuts at Thursday night's school board meeting.  But Wednesday, district officials briefed employees about the plan as the struggling district tries to cover transfer costs for hundreds of students.  

   Teachers learned yesterday that 103 of the district's 650 employees will lose their jobs by the end of December.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that layoff notices will go out next month.  

   District officials say class sizes could go as high as 29 students and Bel-Nor Elementary School is expected to close.

   The district is projecting a $6.8 million shortfall this school year because of the added cost of the state mandated school transfer program.

Published in Local News

   The Riverview Gardens School District will offset some of the $15 million they're spending on the school transfer program with a series of budget cuts, but no layoffs so far.  

   District officials outlined the cuts Tuesday.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the district will save as much as $3 million by leaving teacher vacancies unfilled, slashing the professional development budget, modifying the busing contract and through other savings in technology and facilities costs.  

   Even with the budget cuts, the district will be more than $7 million in the red if transfer costs remain the same in the 2014-15 school year.

   Teachers in the Normandy District have been told they won't avoid layoffs as that district deals with transfer costs.   On Thursday, Superintendent Ty McNichols will present a staff reduction plan that could include a school closing.  Normandy officials say they will run $6.8 million short before the end of this school year.

   After the state Supreme Court upheld Missouri’s school transfer law, more than 2,000 students opted to transfer out of the unaccredited districts and attend better performing schools.  Under the law, their home districts must cover costs.

Published in Local News

   Most of the students who were given the chance to transfer out of the struggling Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts are still attending their new schools.  

   Nearly 2300 transfer students were attending classes in 24 districts across the St. Louis metro area, according to numbers compiled by Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis last month.  

   About 500 students who could have transferred, opted to stay in their home districts.  Don Senti, executive director of Cooperating School Districts told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that transportation is a problem.  Senti says it's too difficult for some students to get to school in districts where transportation isn't provided.

Published in Local News

   Normandy officials say it's too soon to say whether the cost of hundreds of students transferring out of the unaccredited district will lead to major budget cuts.  

   Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Mick Willis, told board members Wednesday night that staffing levels, the number of buildings the district can operate and the number of services it can provide are largely driven by the number of students enrolled in the district.

   "We have to pay a lot of attention to enrollment, what those numbers look like," Willis said.  "And then where we should be relative to those enrollment numbers."

   A final budget recommendation will be made to the board in June, after property tax revenues are determined.

   Parents who attended Wednesday's board meeting were more concerned about the district's progress toward accreditation.

 

Published in Local News

   There are a lot of problems with Missouri's school transfer law, but no easy solutions.  That's what state lawmakers heard from St. Louis area school administrators and state educators during five hours of hearings Tuesday.  

   The legislators are considering changes to the current law that allows students in unaccredited districts to transfer to better schools at the expense of their home district.  Issues of cost were a repeated theme yesterday.  

   Three districts in the state are currently unaccredited: Normandy, Riverview Gardens and Kansas City.  But with 11 other districts only having provisional accreditation and new state education standards, there is concern that the transfer situation could be much more widespread in the next few years.

Published in Local News
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