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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

Another blow to the Normandy School District. The Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri House rejected a spending bill that would provide the district with $1.5 million to keep schools open for the rest of the school year. The money is part of a $327 million supplemental budget bill that was unanimously passed by the Senate. The House and Senate will have a joint committee to resolve the differences. Without the funds, Normandy is likely to run out of money by next month.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (AP) – A Missouri Senate panel has scaled back the amount of state money that could go to an unaccredited school district in the St. Louis area.
 
The Normandy School District had sought $5 million to make sure it can finish the academic year without becoming insolvent. The House approved that amount.
 
But the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday reduced the supplemental state aid to $1.5 million. Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer says that still should provide a financial cushion for the district.
Normandy’s financial problems stem in part from a Missouri law requiring unaccredited districts to pay transportation and tuition for students to transfer to accredited schools nearby.
 
The state education department has projected Normandy could finish the year with about $63,000, which wouldn’t leave much room for unexpected costs.
 
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
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Supporters of an unaccredited St. Louis area school district are making their case to Missouri lawmakers for a $5 million infusion to avoid shutting down.
 
The Normandy School District is in jeopardy of running out of money in April and is seeking state help to remain open for the rest of the school years.
 
District officials came to the Missouri Capitol on Monday along with by a high school senior, parent, teacher and other community leaders. They pleaded with members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include $5 million in a supplemental state budget bill.
 
Normandy is running short on money because state law requires unaccredited districts to pay for students who chose to transfer to other nearby public school systems.
Published in Local News

Families with students looking to move out of the Normandy and Riverview Garden Districts have to have their applications filed by 4PM, Monday.

 

Students who transferred this year also have to inform their new district that they will be returning next year. Students whose applications are approved will learn which school they will attend next year, sometime this summer.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - An unaccredited St. Louis-area school system facing bankruptcy could end up paying $130,000 for lobbying efforts while urging Missouri lawmakers to approve a financial rescue.
 
A document obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records request shows the Normandy School District agreed to pay a $90,000 retainer in monthly installments for representation and could spend up to $40,000 more to hire additional consultants. The costs have prompted concern from some lawmakers.
 
Missouri legislators are considering a $5 million budget infusion for Normandy aimed at preventing the district from running out of money this spring. A state transfer law is requiring the district to pay to send students to other accredited districts.
 
A Normandy spokeswoman says the district is doing what anyone needing legislative assistance would do.
Published in Local News
   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.
 
Published in Local News
   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
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