Elected officials in St. Louis County, which has no charter schools, are upset that the state legislature has voted to give them a new charter school, against their wishes. Their efforts to improve the struggling Normandy district will be undermined by the charter school. If you recall, Michael Brown (the teen who was shot and killed in Ferguson, leading to national protests), went to school in the Normandy district.

The possibility of the first public charter school opening in north St. Louis County, within the struggling Normandy school district’s borders, is being met with opposition from some local government leaders.

If approved by the Missouri State Board of Education, the Leadership School will launch in fall 2021 as the first charter school to open outside of either St. Louis or Kansas City in the two decades of the program’s existence.

Several mayors of the small towns that make up the Normandy Schools Collaborative held a press conference Thursday afternoon to voice their opposition to the new school, saying elected representation should be involved in improving the district.

“We say to anyone who wants to come into our community to help in that fight, we welcome you,” said Brian Jackson, the mayor of Beverly Hills. “But we have to say to you, not without us.”

The officials argued Normandy is turning its school system around despite inadequate resources. A charter school opening nearby will further starve the district of funding, they said.

Charter schools — which are publicly funded but run independently from elected local school boards — have opened only in St. Louis and Kansas City since their 1999 creation. They’re allowed by current state law to open outside those two cities if the school district is not fully accredited.

In another story on the same event:

 A charter school is coming to the Normandy school district next fall, despite the most organized opposition since the taxpayer-funded schools first opened 20 years ago in St. Louis.

“We reject the idea of experimenting with our educational system with our children,” said Joyce McRath, a former Normandy School Board member. “The push for charter schools rarely happens in rural communities or communities that don’t look like ours.”

Unfortunately, the Legislature is moving forward without listening to local elected officials. They will open a charter school without considering the damage it will do to the Normandy schools.