Normandy Schools Collaborative Offers Hope
Yesterday, the Missouri State Board of Education voted to lapse the Normandy School District. What exactly this means for the district and students, especially transfer students, remains to be seen. What we know at this point is that the district boundaries will stay the same, the district will be known as the Normandy Schools Collaborative, an appointed board will replace the elected board, and all contracts will be void.
Some have asked me if this is a good move. I have to say, “Compared to what?”
Let’s consider two scenarios.
Scenario 1: The Transfer Law Never Went Into Effect
The problems in the Normandy School District did not begin when a quarter of the students abandoned ship last fall. The district received its first accreditation designation in 1996 – provisional. For the past 18 years, the district has never been fully accredited. The four-year graduation rate for males is less than 50 percent. In 2013, the district received an 11.1 percent on the Missouri School Improvement Program Annual Report (MSIP 5).
When the problems from Normandy began to spill into other districts, the public began to take notice.
If the transfer law had not taken effect, Normandy would probably continue to trudge along unaffected for another decade without any significant reforms.
Scenario 2: Normandy School District Remains Unchanged
Whether Missouri Senate Bill 493 passes or not, the Normandy School District must continue to make adjustments, especially in regards to staffing. This has been a tough year for the district financially. The transfer program came as a sudden shock and the district did not have time to prepare. Normally, a business losing a quarter of its customers would make immediate and deep cuts. This was problematic for a district locked into long-term contracts and collective bargaining agreements.
If the district were to continue to operate under the current or SB 493 version of the transfer law, they would still have to deal with these realities. Essentially, they would be forced to adapt without having the freedom to adapt.
We still do not know all the details of the new Normandy Schools Collaborative plan; but given these two alternative scenarios, the new plan looks immeasurably better. If the State Board of Education appoints a board that is willing to make substantial changes to the way the district operates, this could be a very positive reform.