The state Department of Education plans to ask the legislature, again, to give it money aimed at preparing for the possibility that more school districts will fail.
Members of the state Board of Education say the state was not read for dealing with the Normandy School District losing accreditation – not for what would happen or how the Board would have to deal with it.
“The truth of the matter is we had no choice when we took the assignment last year, and we were grossly unprepared for the effort that was required,” said Commissioner Michael Jones of St. Louis. “Structurally unprepared, statutorily unprepared, resources unprepared, but we had no choice but to act.”
Deputy Education Commissioner Ron Lankford wants to approach being ready by asking the legislature to fully fund the Missouri School Improvement Program’s support and intervention plan.
“The weakness of the MSIP process is there was not anything that enabled intervention. It was declaration, but not intervention,” Lankford told the Board. “The goal is that we have no more Normandies.”
Lankford spoke to the board about preparing a budget request for the legislature to consider in 2016 that would include funding for the intervention plan. The Board voted for the Education Department to proceed.
The legislature has opted not to fund the plan for the past two sessions. In the past session the Department asked for more than $3.1-million for that purpose, mostly from the general revenue fund.
Lankford says the Department will review that request and begin work on a new one for 2016.
He says a key piece of the support and intervention plan is the auditing of districts.
“You look at your leadership, you look at your curriculum that’s going on, you look at the implementation of curriculum with fidelity, you look at school climate, you look at public engagement,” Lankford explained.
He stressed the plan is not just for dealing with districts that have lost accreditation.
“Even if there are some that are not provisionally accredited – they’re fully accredited but there maybe has been a drastic decline or something like that, or they’re just over the provision,” Lankford said the plan is meant to help such districts improve.