St. Louis Public Radio News
4:25 pm
Wed March 5, 2003

School Board Candidates Meet at First Forum

St. Louis, Mo. – Eight candidates vying for two seats on the St. Louis school board met at a city high school Tuesday night to answer questions from the public.

The candidates fielded questions ranging from enhancing student achievement to financial management. Each of the eight agreed the district is responsible for addressing its students' social problems and echoed the need for community partnerships.

Candidate Antonio French wants to see the district shift 35% of its non-instructional budget back into the classroom.

"It's shameful that we only spend $0.50 of every dollar in the classroom," French said. "It just makes sense that we'll get better results if we spend more of our resources. Our priority should be in the spending of dollars, keeping kids first."

Candidate Peter Downs believes greater focus must be placed on reading. Downs says 61% of St. Louis public school seventh graders and 70% of 11th graders can't read at grade level.

"In most teachers colleges, they don't teach teachers of these advanced grades - middle school and high school - they don't teach them how to teach reading," Downs said. "So what we need to do as a district is teach the teachers. There are programs out there to do that; the Pittsburgh school district did that and raised their student performance quite a bit."

A total of nine candidates are running for a three-year term on the board. Another forum will be held tonight for 10 candidates seeking a four-year term.

The election is April 8. St. Louis School Board Candidates: 3-year term (pick two) John Oleski Peter Downs Antonio French John Kintree Thomas Simpson William Lovelace, Jr. Elizabeth Crowley Vince Schoemehl Martha Baker St. Louis School Board Candidates: 4-year term (pick two) Alice Bell Yolanda Brown John Harrington Elanor Gower Curtis Royston Robert Volz David De Vore John Mahoney Ronald Jackson Robert Archibald Mary Ann McGivern