Normandy students return to cheers

WELLSTON (AP) — The school year is under way at Normandy schools, with alumni and parents gathering to cheer for students who chose to return to the troubled district.

Monday was the first day of classes for students in Normandy, one of two unaccredited St. Louis County districts where students were given the option of going to better schools in other districts.

Adults hosted what was essentially a pep rally for the 3,000 students staying at Normandy, even after a quarter of their peers transferred out.

“This woke up the whole community,” said James McGee, mayor of Vinita Park, holding a poster board sign.

A Missouri Supreme Court ruling earlier this year opened the way for the transfers.

Meanwhile, a regional discussion has begun about what can be done to support struggling schools, and how to turn around those that have failed. That discussion is part of a monthly meeting at the Missouri Board of Education in Jefferson City, which was taking place Monday and Tuesday.

Normandy High School senior Makayla Smith walked into the school with her brother, Bryce, a sophomore, along with her.

“A lot of my friends did leave, but I believe they’re coming back,” Makayla ssaid. “I am ready. We want to make a fool out of what’s been said of our school.”

The district is expected to face tuition and transfer costs of $15 million to comply with the transfer statute. The law upheld by the state high court requires unaccredited districts to pay tuition and transportation costs of students who wish to attend schools in higher performing districts.

Riverview Gardens, also in north St. Louis County, is the other unaccredited district in the region.

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