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Community speaks out against proposed plan to improve school districts

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - A public hearing turned fiery Tuesday night, as passionate community members spoke out against DESE’s proposed plan to improve school districts across Missouri.

The public hearing, held at UMSL, began with a DESE official outlining the proposed State Support and Intervention Plan.  It focuses on ways to help schools, and prevent them from losing their accreditation.

The meeting was held to gather feedback on the plan, but most of the comments centered on Normandy, the failing district that faces bankruptcy this spring.  The bankruptcy is mainly because the district has to pay tuition for students who transferred to higher performing districts, like Francis Howell.

Many speakers at the meeting felt DESE’s plan doesn’t do enough to help districts already in trouble, like Normandy, and are adamant that the controversial school transfer program isn’t helping.

Even Francis Howell’s superintendent got up to speak.  She feels the transfer students are missing out on extracurricular activities and parental involvement, since they attend school outside their own communities.

Maryville University Professor Emeritus Dan Rocchio also spoke out against the transfer program: “We need to be changing the system within the district, as opposed to spending money to send kids outside the district.”

Several Normandy and Francis Howell transfer students also shared their thoughts on the idea of Normandy ceasing to exist.  Normandy High School Junior Kenny Branch laments, “These teachers, principals, everybody to the janitors and bus drivers, and I love them to death, that’s why I’m so passionate.”

In response to the criticisms aimed at DESE, Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says she’s happy community members spoke their minds.  Still, she says impassioned pleas to save Normandy won’t fix its deep financial difficulties: “The whole situation with Normandy is certainly at a different juncture than all the other districts we’re talking about. 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.”

Meanwhile, supporters of DESE’s plan appreciate that it’s flexible.  For every category of accreditation, the plan offers a variety of different paths for improvement.  The plan is still a draft; DESE will present the final form to the State Board of Education on March 21st.

3 comments

  • Steven Sweeney

    Wanna save the schools? Get rid of the NEA..the money will actually go to supplies and the kids instead of the fat cat administrators..This is why private schools NEVER lose accreditation..NO NEA!

  • bob

    They “love everybody there” because its A JOKE OF A DISTRICT. They yell in the hallways everyday, its more play n baby gangsters than a school . LOL they always have many excuses and administrators there ALWAYS CLAIMING TURNAROUNDS. What a disaster CLOSE IT OR really just leave em all BUT NO MORE MONEY FOR THEM TO WASTE. LET THIER OWN PAY FOR THIER OWN. WHY SHOULD WE?

  • Michael Margulis

    i agree bob. some of these schools are jokes. I say replace the whole staff until they get one that actually does their job..I don’t blame kids for transferring to schools that are better suited to learning than scoring premo weed. then again the parents should just move..and there is hud in every city. even in clayton or st. charles so rent price is no excuse

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