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Nicastro: Normandy Schools Headed For Bankruptcy; Lawmaker Calls For Her Resignation During Hearing

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
DESE Commissioner Chris Nicastro appears before the Mo. House Budget Committee on Jan. 15, 2014.

Time is running out for Normandy schools in north St. Louis County to win extra funding from Missouri lawmakers this school year.

Normandy and Riverview Gardens have experienced an exodus this school year due to the student transfer law.  Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the House Budget Committee Wednesday that she expects the Normandy School District will be bankrupt by the end of the year.

"Under state law, if the district is bankrupt, they lapse, they go out of business," Nicastro said.  "The state Board of Education has the responsibility of assigning (Normandy's) 5,000 children to other districts, or coming up with another plan to educate them differently, which is what we're working on."

Nicastro says Riverview Gardens will likely face bankruptcy next year, and Kansas City schools could follow soon after if the status quo remains in place.  Meanwhile, Budget Committee member Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, directly challenged Nicastro to resign over her hiring of consulting firm CEE-Trust to improve schools in Kansas City.

"I do believe you are in violation of federal law by steering that contract, which is why I continue to call for your resignation," Montecillo said.  "I think it's the responsible thing for you to do for the children of this state."

Nicastro responded, "I (have) 34 years of a career in urban schools in this state, my track record speaks for itself."  She continued, "I think there are many people who could probably do the job as well or better than I, (but) I'm not sure you'll find anyone more willing and more committed to do this work."

House Budget Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, jumped in at that point and reminded the committee to limit discussions to budget matters.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.