Nixon Vetoes Student Transfer Bill
June 24, 2014

(AP) – Calling it a “dangerous voucher scheme,” Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday vetoed a measure that would allow the use of public money to pay for certain students to attend private schools.

In making good on his vow to block the legislation, Nixon said it would only worsen the problems of a pair of struggling St. Louis County school districts as well as others that risk losing accreditation.

“Not only does (the bill) fail to solve the school transfer problem it was intended to address, it would create new problems and exacerbate the hardship faced by children who attend unaccredited schools,” Nixon said at press conference in St. Louis County.

The school transfer legislation would have eliminated a requirement that unaccredited districts such as Normandy and Riverview Gardens in suburban St. Louis pay for students’ transportation to new schools. It called for accreditation of individual schools rather than entire districts.

Nixon vetoed the bill earlier Tuesday in Jefferson City. In a separate move, the Democratic governor also vetoed or froze more than $1.1 billion in spending Tuesday for Missouri’s next budget, citing concerns about declining revenues and the potential for new tax breaks to drain state dollars even further.

Students in unaccredited districts St. Louis city, St. Louis County and Jackson County could have tapped local tax revenue to pay for private school tuition, subject to local voter approval. Systems that had lost accreditation for at least three straight years would not have needed voter consent.

Restrictions on Student Transfers from Normandy District
June 17, 2014

(AP) – The Missouri State Board of Education moved ahead Monday with policies limiting student transfers from the struggling Normandy School District in St. Louis County with an eye toward controlling costs.

Students who stayed in the Normandy School District during the most recent school year could not transfer in the future to nearby districts, and students who transferred this year would return to Normandy if they had not spent at least one semester there in the 2012-2013 school year. That affects 131 students, Missouri education officials estimate.

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said students eligible to transfer could do that, so long as the receiving district agrees to accept a lower tuition payment. She said there has been no indication at this point that districts would not do that. She said letters will be sent to parents of students who transferred this year under a Missouri law requiring unaccredited districts pay for students who want to attend other schools.

Decisions on student transfers came as Missouri education officials were meeting to determine details for managing the Normandy school system. The State Board of Education decided last month to dissolve the Normandy School District at the end of June and replace it with the Normandy Schools Collaborative. The collaborative will be led by a Joint Executive Governing Board chosen by state education officials. Normandy filed a lawsuit in May and has sought a temporary restraining order that includes an attempt to stop the dissolution of the district.

DESE Makes a Move on Embattled Normandy School System
May 20, 2014

(AP) – The Missouri State Board of Education has approved replacing the unaccredited Normandy School District with a new school system to be governed by a board whose members it appoints.

State education officials voted Tuesday to dissolve the suburban St. Louis district at the end of June and terminate all contracts. The newly formed Normandy Schools Collaborative then will begin July 1 within the old district.

Many details remain unresolved, and the State Board of Education plans to discuss plans during its meeting next month.

The Normandy district lost its accreditation in early 2013. Its supporters filled a meeting room at a Columbia hotel to watch Tuesday’s meeting. The district says the crowd included students, teachers, administrators and school board members

Troubled Normandy School District Votes to Stop Paying Student Transfer Costs
October 25, 2013

The Normandy School Board on Thursday night voted not to pay the bill for its students who have transferred into higher performing schools.
In a 3-2 vote that puts the cash-strapped district at odds with state law, the board rejected paying the most recent costs for hundreds of students who have opted to attend school elsewhere this year.

The vote came shortly after the board approved a plan projected to save the district more than $3 million this year by closing Bel-Nor Elementary School and laying off 103 employees, most of them teachers.

The surprise vote not to pay this month’s bill for transfer costs means that about $1.3 million will not be going to 14 districts, officials said.

Last month, the district paid its first set of bills, including more than $424,000 for 449 Normandy students who transferred to Francis Howell in St. Charles County. Francis Howell is the district Normandy selected to transport students to by bus and has the largest number of Normandy transfer students.

“I’ve been wrestling with this since day one. I could no longer in good conscience support a process that would not allow us — our students — to have the kind of access to education that is afforded to other districts,” said Board President William Humphrey, who favored the withholding of the funds. “All I’ve asked for is a fair playing field for our students.”

The other board members who supported the move were Terry Artis and Sheila Williams