Normandy’s school board grew by two members on Thursday, April 29, in response to local residents’ calls for changes.
The two new members are Michael Jones, a former Missouri State Board of Education member, and William Humphrey, who was president of the elected Normandy school board until the state replaced it with the appointed Joint Executive Governing Board (JEGB) in 2014.
With these additions, Normandy’s board will now have seven members.
The appointed board has overseen the Normandy Schools Collaborative for the past seven years and brought it from unaccredited status in 2012 to provisional accreditation in 2017.
But the State Board of Education says student performance in Normandy has declined since 2017, and the JEGB has recently been criticized for hiring a superintendent who does not have the required state credentials for his position.
Questions also arose around the JEGB’s decision to place two bond measures on the April 2020 election ballot while many residents of the district are still feeling the economic effects of the COVID pandemic.
The State Board of Education called the April 29 special session in response to input from Normandy school district residents, parents, and municipal leaders. Margie Vandeven, Missouri’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, said that some public comments supported the current appointed board, but many others asked for a variety of changes, including the appointment of two new board members.
The board approved the appointments of Jones and Humphrey by a vote of 8-0.
During the special session, the State Board of Education also voted to require more frequent updates from the JEGB. It will now report on the district’s progress toward full accreditation every three months.
The 24:1 Municipal Partnership, a group of elected leaders representing the Normandy schools footprint, had called for more accountability from the district’s leadership and a return to local governance and educational sovereignty.
“We now have someone on the JEGB we can trust and who will be looking out for our kids,” said Mayor James McGee of Vinita Park. “With the vast amount of leadership experience those two have together, they will improve the direction the school district is going.”
McGee also praised the State Board of Education for requiring the JEGB to hold an election within 14 days to determine its leadership.
He said the 24:1 Municipal Partnership will continue to advocate for educational reform on behalf of the community and its taxpayers. Two mayors will attend each of the JEGB meetings, and the group will review the progress reports the JEGB must submit to the State Board of Education every three months.
“In the interest of transparency, we’ll continue to have town halls and build up trust in the board among our residents,” McGee said. “We believe in community engagement, and that means we have to be engaged ourselves.”