The state Board of Education has unanimously voted in favor of restoring control of St. Louis Public Schools to an elected board – dissolving the current appointed board on June 30.
An appointed board has governed St. Louis Public Schools since 2007 when the district was unaccredited. St. Louis has been fully accredited since 2017.
In the final days of the previous elected board, meetings grew tense and dysfunctional with infighting among members. Prior to the 2007 overhaul, six district superintendents served during a four-year span. Dr. Kelvin Adams has served as superintendent of the district since 2008.
Laws unique to the board in part caused turmoil during meetings, including giving tenure to all district employees. Non-certified staff, such as custodians and bus drivers, were incorporated into the regulation. The move led to the district being subject to expensive due process if it wanted to terminate a worker.
The Missouri Legislature eventually repealed the law.
During today’s meeting in St. Louis, Missouri Board of Education member Mike Jones commended the appointed board’s work.
“I don’t know of three people, four people, that would have done what you did for free.
State Board of Education member Peter Herschend of Joplin had some advice for the members transitioning to the previous setup.
“There are 23,000 kids out there who are depending on you. Most of them don’t care about you, but you better care about them,” says Herschend.
Noting that student performance metrics have changed over the years, State Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven says the district is improving and work continues to build upon that trend. In general terms, she cites the decline of the dropout rate, out of school suspensions and the discipline incident rate. She goes on to mention the graduation rate, attendance figures and ACT scores have increased with preschool enrollment taking a considerable upward turn.
Meanwhile, during Tuesday’s board meeting, new Fine Arts learning standards were adopted for Missouri’s K-12 public schools. The changes expand the definition of Arts to include animation, film, and gaming development and interactive and computer-based art-making.
The cost to districts will depend on the way they choose to apply the standards. Districts are required to roll out the changes next fall.
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