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Normandy school district sheds unaccredited status in long turnaround effort

File | St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri's board of education Friday granted the Normandy Schools Collaborative provisional accrediation for the first time since 2012.

Normandy’s school district has surpassed a “milestone” in its long turnaround process.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously Friday to raise the district’s classification up to “provisionally accredited,” a change from the failing status at which it’s languished the past five years. The reclassification will bring an end to a program that’s caused the district to lose scores of students and millions of dollars to other schools.

“The reality is Normandy has earned this vote,” added Mike Jones, a board member from St. Louis.

Normandy’s schools lost accreditation in 2012. The district has since gone through a reincorporation to become Normandy Schools Collaborative under state governance.

“They’ve done it the right way,” St. Louis-area board member Vic Lenz said.

Lenz noted Normandy’s Annual Performance Report score — how the state education department grades each school district and what largely drives a district’s accreditation status — has moved up from 7.1 in 2014 to 62.5 in this year. It’s the second year Normandy scored in the provisionally accredited range.

“That’s a dramatic change, folks,” Lenz said.

Normandy’s 3,000 students still struggle with below-average assessment scores and a graduation rate for high schoolers that’s 10 points below the state’s 88 percent average.

The new accreditation status will be effective Jan. 2, when the school’s second semester begins. That will allow Normandy to end or phase out its transfer program.

State law requires unaccredited districts to pay the tuition and transportation costs for students to attend higher-performing schools. Normandy pays roughly $6 million for about 550 students to attend schools outside its boundaries, according to the district.

Normandy was the sole remaining unaccredited district in Missouri.

“This is just a milestone,” said the Rev. Cedric Portis, president of the state-appointed board overseeing Normandy schools. “We are very thankful and we will rejoice in this milestone’s success. Look for more success to come from this district.”

City Garden Montessori’s charter renewed

State board members renewed the charter for City Garden Montessori for another decade.

It’s the first 10-year charter renewal the board has granted, eligible only to high performing districts, rather than the typical five-year charters.

A charter school must be considered high performing for three years to be eligible for the extended renewal.

City Garden, in St. Louis’ Botanical Heights neighborhood, educates 231 elementary students. The school is  more racially diverse than most St. Louis public schools and its students test toward the top among schools in the city.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.