Keep the Money in Unaccredited Schools

By Daniel Bodden

As the transfer transition settles down, it may seem like the accreditation problem is solved, but this solution doesn’t fix the heart of the problem. According to STLtoday.com, the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has projected Normandy will run out of money in March, and it’s no surprise. Chances are low that this district can survive while paying more than $15 million in tuition to send more than 1,000 kids to schools all over the area.

The problem here is not with the transfer students, but the transfer program does need to end. It would be sad to see these students leave North, but eventually a permanent solution has to be made, and going through the transfer process every year would be ridiculous. Normandy’s plans to regain accreditation are also not the problem. Normandy is focusing on programs that will help their performance in the areas needed for accreditation. The district is doing the best it can with the situation at hand.

The problem here is that the State is making it impossible for Normandy to become reaccredited. Mandating that Normandy finds a way to cut their now $65 million budget back down to $50 million while improving and becoming accredited is completely unreasonable. They are financially able to do much less, but the State is expecting them to do much better than before. Normandy Assistant Superintendent of Operations Mick Willis said any adjustments the District makes to absorb the added costs as much as possible would affect 80 percent of programs and services in place now.

The State needs to stop forcing failing districts to give money to all of these transfer schools. It needs to help keep students and funding in the schools, and utilize the money in the best ways possible. When schools become provisionally accredited, that is the time it needs to step in and mandate how the budget is spent, but all the money needs to remain in the schools. It should be spent on programs like tutoring, professional development, and STEM–not transfer programs.

According to STLtoday.com, the State Board of Education has recommended $6.8 million in aid be given to Normandy, but this may not be approved and it may not help the situation at all. Throwing money at this district didn’t help before it lost accreditation and it won’t help now. The State needs to step in with a plan to fix the problem and make sure the money is spent responsibly. If it doesn’t, there’s very little chance this situation will improve at all.

The solution needs to start with this simple action: keeping money in accrediting schools. From there, plans will need to be implemented and change will take time, but it will at least be steps in the right direction. These students in failing schools are worth the headaches it takes to solve these problems. They have to be saved, and it can’t be done by leaving this situation alone.