Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Ryan Delaney

Education Reporter

Ryan is a reporter on the education desk at St. Louis Public Radio, covering both higher education and the many school districts in the St. Louis region. He has previously reported for public radio stations WFYI in Indianapolis and WRVO in upstate New York. He began his journalism career working part time for WAER while attending Syracuse University. He's won multiple reporting awards for his work, which has aired on NPR, The Takeaway and WGBH's Innovation Hub. Having grown up in Burlington, Vt., he often spends time being in the woods hiking, camping, and skiing.

Ninth-graders take notes during a social studies class at the recently opened KIPP St. Louis High School on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

KIPP St. Louis is taking its disciplined approach to education to high schoolers.

The charter school network opened a high school this week to go with its two elementary and two middle schools. It’s also one of three new charter schools opening for the 2017-18 academic year in St. Louis.

But overall, charter school growth in St. Louis is slowing from its peak during 2009, 2010 and 2011; there are 33 charter schools in the city.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:20 p.m. Aug. 15 with details from the State Board of Education meeting — Missouri’s board of education will stay out of the process to return decision-making control to St. Louis Public Schools after a decade, at least for now.

The decision came Tuesday at the Missouri State Board of Education meeting.

Though ending state oversight of SLPS is up to the board, it has no obligation to be involved in the transition process.

Sparta Public Schools Superintendent Gabe Schwemmer said her district doesn't have bonding authority, so it's borrowing from banks in order to open this year. Aug. 11, 2017
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens of Metro East school superintendents made one thing clear Friday: They need state money, and they need it now.

Illinois’ new school funding formula is tied up in another political battle, one that could end next week when lawmakers have a chance to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s partial veto.

Construction workers finish up work on the new Stone Creek Elementary School in the Wentzville School District on July 25, 2017. It's one of two new schools that will open next week.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Signs along the road leading to one of the new elementary schools in the Wentzville School District advertise newly constructed homes for sale. It’s something district officials say they closely track, along with hospital birth records.

The data tells them that the district’s rapid growth — the quickest in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — won’t level off soon. To keep pace, Wentzville is opening two elementary schools this month.

Wentzville’s late to the expansion party in St. Charles County, where the population has been growing steadily for three decades.

Ashley Lock peers out of the window during a district bus tour for new teachers at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, where she'll teach history.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

As children and teens across the St. Louis area enjoy their last few days of freedom before school resumes, districts are putting teachers — old and new — to work.

It’s an especially busy time for new hires, who have to deal with several days of paperwork, learn technology and navigate unfamiliar schools.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:45 p.m. August 2 to correct the percentage of KIPP St. Louis' budget that goes toward marketing in 7th paragraph Photos of smiling children in school uniforms grace the sides of buses, large billboards and flyers in mailboxes throughout the St. Louis area. Those images — and the selling points written underneath them — are meant for parents trying to figure out which school to send their kids.

With the dozens of charter schools and St. Louis Public Schools vying for students (and the state tax dollars that follow), the institutions have to act more like businesses, marketing themselves — sometimes heavily.

Eureka residents fill sandbags outside Eureka High School in April in preparation for the Meramec River's rising waters. Flooding this spring caused about $1.5 million in damage to the school, according to the district.
Provided | Rockwood School District

St. Louis County is one of the highest-risk counties in the United States for flooding in schools, according to a Pew Charitable Trust report released Tuesday.

The 100 most at-risk counties identified in the report have 6,444 schools educating nearly 4 million students. Three of those are in St. Louis County, and one of them, Eureka High School, has flooded twice in as many years.

William Thomas, 18, of Chicago Heights, Illinois, fills out residential housing paperwork at a Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville freshman orientation on Friday, July 28, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville has morphed over the last decade from a commuter college into a regional university that attracts out-of-state students.

The secret to growing while other public universities and colleges across the state shrink: broadening recruitment efforts and constructing more dorms.

schoolbus
Vipal | Flickr

Updated at 11 a.m. July 25 with statement from House Speaker Mike Madigan — Illinois lawmakers must hold the summer’s second special session due to disagreements over state’s K-12 school funding formula.

Campers listen to Katie Dreas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explain foliage during a summer camp at Little Creek Nature Center on July 17, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Children benefit from a balanced diet of screen time and outdoors time, studies show.

In the St. Louis area, several camps and summer youth jobs focus on environmental education and exploration. St. Louis Public Radio visited a smattering of them to see what kids are learning.

Elliot Haney | via Flickr

College freshmen who loathe math, rejoice: Algebra may not be a factor when it comes to earning a degree from Missouri public colleges and universities.

Under the guidance of the Missouri Department of Higher Education, all but one school (Truman State) have divided mathematics requirements into different “Math Pathways” that align with students’ majors. Beginning in the fall semester, science or engineering students will still need to take algebra, but a liberal arts student will take statistics or a mathematical reasoning course.

Jennings Superintendent Art McCoy talks with students in a construction course at Jennings High School on Jan. 30, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

All of Jennings High School’s most recent senior class is either bound for college or has found employment, according to the district.

That does include McDonald’s for some grads, but district administrators said the fast-food chain is a partner and enrolled students into its college scholarship program.

Shelia Price marches against violence with her grandchildren Saturday, March 19, 2016 in north St. Louis. Her son died from a gun shot 20 years ago.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said earlier this week that he’ll provide more trauma counseling services to St. Louis’ public schools as part of a broader plan to reduce violent crime in the city.

It’s a strategy the school district says it had no part in crafting.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, speaks to reporters on July 10, 2017 about health care legislation following a tour of Chestnut Health Systems in Granite City.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican effort to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act could devastate drug treatment clinics by making deep cuts to Medicaid, the government-run insurance for low-income Americans, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said Monday.

After touring Chestnut Health Systems, an opioid addiction clinic in Granite City, Duckworth told reporters that if Republicans succeed in cutting Medicaid, millions would be hurt, among them those undergoing treatment for opioid addiction. She said Congress needs to protect Medicaid and make sure that medications used to treat addiction are affordable.

School bus
Vipal | Flickr

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens temporarily pulled $15 million worth of funding for school transportation on June 30, leaving many rural districts in the lurch when it comes to paying for busing.

But school administrators say they have to get kids to the buildings, so taking buses off the road isn’t an option. And parents often don’t have the means or the time to drive those long distances.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal financial aid for low-income students that's now available all year could push more students through community colleges faster and increase the likelihood of them earning a degree.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the return of year-round Pell Grants for the fiscal year that began July 1. And with large portions of students studying at community colleges eligible for the grant program, it could increase summer enrollment figures.

Schoolbus
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Of the states that turned in their homework early to the U.S. Department of Education for how they’ll roll out a major overhaul in education policy, Illinois’ adaptation got a mixed grade in an independent review.

Bellwether Education Partners, a research and policy think tank, read through 17 state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act submitted in April and scored them in a report published this week. It found Illinois’ plan has certain aspects to be commended, but is also light on specifics in several other parts.

Leslie, right, on a walk with her mom near their St. Louis County home. Leslie is gender-fluid and a rising sophomore at Parkway West High School only has one restroom she can use.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s one gender-neutral restroom at Parkway West High School. It’s in the nurse’s office.

Depending on where her classes are, getting there can be a long walk for Leslie. She’s a 15-year-old with a punk-rock look: bright blue hair, dark jeans that are ripped at the knees, a T-shirt and Converse All-Star sneakers. Leslie was born female, but now identifies as gender-fluid. Neither gender feels right to her, which is why she’s uncomfortable with using single-sex, multi-stall bathrooms.

St. Louis city students ride a Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, VICC, school bus on May 11, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is doing “only what’s necessary” to meet new federal education guidelines and still be eligible for the funds tied to them, state education officials said Tuesday.

The state education department also is revising its School Improvement Program for the sixth time, so it’s hard to know what the future of school accountability will look like in Missouri.

Darnell Loyd, of Northwest Academy of Law High School, is one of 50 students enrolled in Washington University's summer College Prep Program.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University is a top-tier college, attracting both the nation’s smartest and richest students. That often puts the private university on the wrong end of rankings for socioeconomic diversity.

To reverse that distinction, Wash U is halfway through an effort to have at least 13 percent of its students be from low-income backgrounds or be the first in their family to attend college. But proponents of college access say the goal isn’t ambitious enough — and won’t help foster a different atmosphere on campus.

Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson takes her turn as a crossing guard.
Jennings School District

A federally funded after-school program used by a dozen St. Louis-area school districts with a high proportion of low-income students is among the targets of President Donald Trump’s proposed education budget cuts.

Maryville University's esports team playing in April.
Courtesy of Maryville University

Updated at 6:20 a.m. May 29 with tournament results — Battling in the video game "League of Legends" is a team sport, just like basketball, according to Marko Fosniki. Everyone has a role and a position.

Unlike basketball, he and his teammates are still working on how to play it: “Literally we’re the first generation and we have to figure out all the mistakes we make on our own and we can help our teammates out that way.”

The Maryville University esports team successfully defended its title in Los Angeles this weekend, beating the University of Toronto in Sunday's finals

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers, with full GOP control of the legislature and governor’s office, seemed ready to pass a number of school choice bills when they gathered earlier this year.

Months later, they have nothing to show for it: No expansion of charter schools throughout Missouri, no creation of scholarships that certain students could use for private school and no overhaul of the student transfer rules for failing school districts.

Students at the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls on May 12, 2017, a St. Louis charter school that opened in 2015.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The pace of new charter schools seeking to open in St. Louis has slowed, according to the universities that act as sponsors and receive formal applications.

While the reasons vary, charter sponsors say they’ve learned more about what it takes to successfully open and sustain a school both financially and academically, which is helping them weed out weak applications.

Scott Leahy speaks in favor of the Best Choice sex ed curriculum during a meeting of the St. Charles Board of Education on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Charles Board of Education voted Monday night to keep a sex education curriculum tied to an anti-abortion group, breaking with recent decisions by a few other St. Louis-area public school districts. 

A student walks through the University of Missouri-St. Louis' campus Friday afternoon, May 19, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis will reduce its spending by another 2.5 percent, campus leaders announced Friday, meeting a deadline that is part of a budget cutting process across the University of Missouri System.

A group of Hazelwood West students protest their suspensions Thursday May 18, 2017 outside the district's administration offices.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Hazelwood school officials lifted the suspensions of nearly 200 high school students Thursday after several days of pressure from fellow students, parents and civil rights groups.

The students had been given five-day suspensions and were banned from participating in the graduation ceremony at Hazelwood West High School after they walked out of classes Monday to protest on behalf of the teachers. The teachers had been hoping to negotiate raises with the district. 

Parents and alumni wave signs welcoming students back to Normandy High School for the 2013 school year.
File photo: Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s schools will remain under the control of a state-appointed board for three more years, education officials said Tuesday, adding that they are optimistic about students’ academic progress in the state’s only unaccredited school district.

Jared Leppert, a graduate student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, conducts a learning test with a student at St. Louis College Prep on Monday, May 8, 2017. The charter school hired Leppert as an intern.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers assigned higher education institutions primary oversight of charter schools when authorizing them 20 years ago. Universities know a thing or two about schools, after all.

It’s not the norm when it comes to charter schools in the United States, though, as a majority of the 42 states (and Washington, D.C.) put the independent schools’ governance in the hands of a local school board.

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