Updated 9 p.m. Sept. 26 with comment from Clinkscale — Darnetta Clinkscale, a former member of the elected board for the St. Louis Public Schools, is now a member of the three-member appointed board that has run the district since 2007.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay on Monday named Clinkscale to the post on the Special Administrative Board. She replaces Melanie Adams, who resigned because she has accepted a job in St. Paul, Minn.
Clinkscale joins Richard Gaines as a second former elected board member on the SAB. Adams had never served on the elected board. The third member of the SAB is the head of the board, Rick Sullivan.
"Ms. Clinkscale's extensive experience in education, health, and board service will serve the children of St. Louis well over the coming years," Slay said in a statement announcing the appointment.
"She will help provide stable governance to a district that has steadily improved since the hiring of Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams. However, much work remains, and Ms. Clinkscale will work to provide support and oversight to the district as it continues working on improving the academic performance of its students."
Clinkscale observed her first SAB meeting Monday night, but didn’t vote because she hadn’t had time to review the material.
After the meeting she said she accepted Slay’s nomination because she cares about the children of St. Louis.
I’m very concerned about their academic achievement, of which I have expressed concerns, and I want to be a part of the solution,” Clinkscale said.
Clinkscale has worked at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for more than 35 years. She received a B.A. in biological science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Respiratory Therapy, and has an MBA from Lindenwood College.
Her appointment does not need confirmation to take effect. It comes as state education officials are discussing when an elected board may resume control over the city schools. The SAB took over when student achievement was low, the district’s budget was in bad shape and the board was dysfunctional.
All three of those conditions have shown improvement over time, leading members of the state board of education to say that if the circumstances that prompted the naming of the SAB no longer prevail, then governance of the district should return to an elected board.
But the state law that empowers the naming of an appointed board gives no guidance on how the transition back to an elected board can occur, or when. A group made up of representatives of all three boards – the SAB, the state board and the current elected board, which continues to meet but has no power –started holding talks last month.
Those were quickly scuttled over a disagreement about who should represent the elected board. Three members of that board were designated to take part in the discussions, but a fourth member, Bill Monroe, showed up at a meeting earlier this month.
His presence would have given the elected board a quorum and opened the session up to the public and to reporters. The designated members of the working group had said they want discussions to remain behind closed doors, at least for now, so they could talk freely about potential ways to proceed without the public misunderstanding what ideas might actually go into effect.
So for now, the talks are on hold. At its recent meeting in Jefferson City, state board members said that if the current elected board can’t agree on its delegates to the transition talks, the whole effort may be scrapped.
Improvements during the tenure of the SAB have helped the district move from unaccredited to provisionally accredited, particularly because of better student test scores and a more disciplined financial picture. The district hopes new achievement results can boost it into full accreditation.
New student test scores are set to be released later this week, with new state report cards expected in November.