The Missouri state board of education has classified the troubled Normandy Schools Collaborative as unaccredited once again, although there was praise concerning the progress the district has made so far toward better academic achievement.
Normandy’s interim superintendent and the president of its appointed board gave its update to the board that highlighted discipline improvements within the district in addition to a plan to help the district come back from having the lowest evaluation scores in the state. The plan includes additional training for teachers and focusing on a number of ways to influence students to attend class more often by showing kids that school will benefit them. Additional funding would also be needed to compensate staff members, many of whom have not had a raise in years.
“In the three years we’ve been dealing with Normandy,” Mike Jones of St. Louis, vice president of the state board, said, “this is the most coherent presentation about what they are trying to do that I’ve heard. It’s clear that you’ve got a game plan. What you have to do is develop a strategy and stick with it.”
He went on to say that depending on what happens concerning changes to the state transfer law, it is possible that the district could run out of money before enough progress is made academically.
“The only question is: Can they get it done before they run out of money?” Jones said. “That’s what this is about right now…. Without a legislative fix, we’re going to be back here again.”
The state board originally placed the district out of the accreditation system in June 2014 in order to find a way around the state’s transfer law, which asks failing districts to pay tuition for students who choose to transfer to better-performing schools. The cash-strapped district says it cannot handle the financial hardship that the law incurs.
However, a Saint Louis County Circuit Court ruled in February that the state board’s decision was invalid. Students were once again allowed to leave the district, and the district once again received the unaccredited rating.
The ruling is currently being appealed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in addition to the state.
St. Louis Public School Superintendent Kelvin Adams also gave his annual presentation to the board, asking for the capability to extend the school day to eight or ten hours for the students who attend the 27 lowest-performing schools, as well as additional flexibility for staffing.
Missouri law currently states the school day cannot be longer than seven hours. However, state board members were interested in his suggestion.