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Mo. education leader rates 2011 session

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro
(Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education)
Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro

Missouri’s top K-12 education official is giving lawmakers mixed grades on the just-completed legislative session.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Chris Nicastrostarted with the upside:  funding increases for school buses and for the Parents as Teachers program, and the K-12 funding formula remains at its current level.  But she cited the failure to strengthen accountability standards for the state’s charter schools.

“We think that charter schools should be just as accountable for financial management and student performance as any other public school, and we were hoping that that would be addressed,” Nicastro said.

Lawmakers also failed to pass a bill to address a Missouri Supreme Courtruling requiring neighboring schools to accept transfer students from failing school districts.

Nicastro also laments that lawmakers did not pass a bill that would have required each student to have a personal study planbefore finishing the eighth grade.

“We think that every child should have a plan of study that indicates how they’re going to progress through middle school, high school and beyond," Nicastro said.  "That, too, did not happen, and we’ll be working on that in the future.”

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