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   With state legislators still tussling over how much financial assistance to give the struggling Normandy School District, local leaders continue to weigh their options.  
   The second of seven transition community meetings was held Monday night.  The meetings are strategy sessions, aimed developing a plan to educate students if lawmakers don't approve enough funding to keep the district open past this spring.  
   A Missouri Supreme Court ruling last summer requires the unaccredited district to pay tuition and transportation costs for students who wish to transfer to better performing districts.  The cost is bankrupting the struggling district.
   Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols tells Fox 2 News the district has a plan to win back accreditation, but not knowing how much help they're going to get from the state makes it difficult to take the next steps. "I'm in a holding pattern because of the uncertainty about where we are," he said.  "Right now is prime time hiring for the organization.  We can't do that."
   Without state aid, Normandy officials have said the district will go bankrupt this month (April).
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Reining in a wide-open Missouri school transfer law could involve first directing students to better schools within the struggling school district if there is space.
   Missouri's current student transfer law requires districts without state accreditation to pay tuition and provide transportation for students to transfer to an accredited school in the same county or a bordering one.
   Lawmakers have proposed controlling out-of-district transfers by redirecting students first from struggling schools to high-performing ones in the same district. The current transfer option would remain for students attending unaccredited schools within unaccredited districts and who cannot move to a higher-performing school within their home school system.
   Missouri's three unaccredited districts are Kansas City, along with Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County. Transfers have occurred at both St. Louis County districts.
 
Published in Local News
   Missouri education officials want to intervene sooner in school district that are struggling to maintain accreditation.  That was the jist of the plan officials with the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education outlined at a public meeting on the UMSL campus Tuesday night.  Education officials held the meeting to gather feedback on the proposed plan to improve performance in stuggling districts.  
   Most of the speakers expressed concerns that the plan doesn't do enough to help districts that are already failing and burdened with the cost of a state mandated transfer program, districts like Normandy.  
   Missouri Education Commissioner Dr. Chris Nicastro spoke with Fox 2 News.  She acknowledges that the problems in Normandy go beyond those addressed by DESE's proposal. "Unless something significant happens in the legislature to alter the course, it's pretty clear that the transfer program expenditures will cause the district to go bankrupt," Nicastro said.
   Many at last night's meeting also took the opportunity to criticize the transfer program and its affect on districts like Normandy.  That includes Maryville University Professor Emeritus Dan Rocchio. "We need to be changing the system within the district," Rocchio said, "as opposed to spending money to send kids outside the district."
   Public comments on DESE's proposed plan can be submitted online at www.dese.mo.gov/unaccredited-districts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Published in Local News
Thursday, 06 February 2014 04:10

Recent snow could cause longer MO school year

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's education department says the latest in a series of winter storms could cause school districts to extend classes into the summer.
   Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spokeswoman Sarah Potter says public schools have already had more snow days than usual in the current academic year.
   Many districts have had to call off classes the past two months because of snow, ice and cold temperatures. Potter says schools might need to cut short spring and summer vacations.
   The department requires school districts to build six snow days into their calendars and those days must be made up in full. Subsequent snow days only count for a half day that must be made up during the academic year.
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri education officials are planning a series of public hearings on ideas for helping unaccredited school districts boost student achievement.
   The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says it wants to hear what the public has to say about several plans it's received from education organizations as well as a study it commissioned.
   The department will use the feedback as it creates a statewide plan for supporting and possibly intervening in unaccredited schools. The agency plans to submit its recommendation to the State Board of Education next month.
   The first hearing takes place Wednesday in Kansas City. The second is Feb. 4 in St. Louis, and the last two are scheduled Feb. 6 in southeast and southwest Missouri.
   Comments can also be made online at:  http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/sia/msip/unaccrediteddistricts.html
 
 
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
There's a fight brewing in Jefferson City over new education standards in math and English, called the Common Core.

The national standards define the skills and knowledge students should have. And proponents say Missouri students need Common Core in order to stay competitive with students from 45 other states that have adopted them.

But some state lawmakers are balking, claiming that the move to Common Core will give federal education officials too much control over local schools. Senator John Lamping co-sponsored a bill to repeal Common Core in Missouri. The Ladue Republican has accused federal education officials of coercion. He and other opponents have also questioned the cost of implementation, since the standards call for computerized testing.

The State's Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says the new standards only outline what students should know, not how schools and teachers should go about teaching, because Common Core doesn't dictate curriculum.

Both Missouri and Illinois adopted the standards in 2010. Illinois will achieve full implementation in the 2013-14 school year, a full year ahead of the Show-me state.
Published in Local News

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