Unaccredited schools look for support in state capitol

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI)– Normandy needs an infusion of more than six million dollars to keep functioning next year.  The tuition bills from one thousand transfer students have hurt the unaccredited district`s budget.  Students are allowed to transfer out of unaccredited districts like Normandy and Riverview Gardens so they can attend an accredited school.

Missouri lawmakers listened Tuesday to testimony from superintendents and education experts about the challenges of restoring quality public education in the state.  The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Chris Nicastro recommended lowering the tuition fees the unaccredited school districts must pay to the receiving districts.  Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols said that would help keep Normandy solvent.

Speaking of Normandy, DESE Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the Joint House and Senate Committee on Education, ‘In this particular case,  I`m looking at an emergency situation where if we do nothing, we`re going to have to assign 4000 children to other schools.’

Riverview Gardens Supt. Scott Spurgeon said he needed time more than money to fix the issues at Riverview Gardens.  He started his tenure as the Riverview Gardens School District in July.  Spurgeon said he planned to hire a staff person to investigate students who do not live in Normandy.

Nicastro asked lawmakers for support to help districts improve their quality of education.

She said,   ‘We believe that moving children from one community to another is not a viable or child centered answer to a long term problem.  Children need to have an option to be educated where they live.’

A court case this spring allowed the students from unaccredited districts to transfer to accredited schools.  A state law approved in 1993 requires the unaccredited districts to pay tuition for students who want to attend an accredited school.

Superintendents from the receiving districts are working with the two unaccredited districts to share resources and best practices so staff can improve.

Betsey.bruce@tvstl.com
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