East St. Louis School District

A crowd of teachers and supporters picket outside East St. Louis School District 189's administrative offices Thurs. Oct. 1, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:45 p.m. Oct. 2 with news from union- School administrators and union leaders in East St. Louis are making plans to renew contract negotiations after two days of teacher strikes in East St. Louis.

Dave Comerford of the Illinois Federation of Teachers told St. Louis Public Radio a session with a federal mediator is scheduled for Monday. Comerferd said that means teachers will continue to strike at least through Monday.

With class canceled due to a teacher strike, East St. Louis students spend school hours outside district offices Thurs. Oct. 1, 2015.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated Thursday, Oct. 1,  2015

School is canceled Thursday for 6,000 students in East St. Louis as teachers walk the picket line. About 400 union teachers and staff members went on strike at 7 a.m.

East St. Louis School District 189 spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said Wednesday the superintendent is hopeful teachers will meet Thursday and reconsider the district’s contract offer. The district’s 400 union teachers rejected it Tuesday before voting to go on strike.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

As summer break winds down, East St. Louis School District 189 is gearing up to begin spending $10.5 million in federal money to kick start academic performance at its two middle schools.   

In the coming days the district will begin the hiring process for 20 new positions to focus on everything from professional development to community engagement. The grant will also pay for an extended school schedule.       

Illinois State Board of Education website

The state's takeover of the district aims to improve student achievement, finances and governance, but progress will be hard without more money from Springfield.

Christopher Koch knows what schools in East St. Louis need to succeed, and he has a pretty clear idea how to get the job done. He just hopes that the state of Illinois will provide the resources that the district needs.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

Illinois state education officials and members of the East St. Louis school board have settled a nearly year-old lawsuit sparked by the state board's attempt to take over the struggling district.  

The troubled East St. Louis school district is cutting 50 administrative jobs amid concerns the school system may run out of money by the end of September unless it gets an emergency loan.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the jobs being eliminated include such positions as administrative clerk, custodian, coordinator, warehouse worker, security guard and attendance officer.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

A St. Clair County Circuit Court judge has approved a preliminary restraining order for a group of recently ousted East St. Louis School Board members. 

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

Five members of East St. Louis' elected school board are suing to reverse the state's takeover of the city's public school system.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

For the first time in its history, the Illinois State Board of Education has taken over a public school district.

The members voted unanimously today to dissolve the elected board of the East St. Louis Public Schools and replace it with an appointed oversight authority.

State board member and long-time educator Vinni Hall of Chicago said she'd heard the concerns of East St. Louis residents and understands why the district is struggling.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Seniority, income determining factors in new Illinois insurance law

Governor Pat Quinn's office announced early this morning that he has signed a measure that will require retired state and public university employees to kick in more money for their health insurance. 

Retirees with at least 20 years of service currently get free health coverage. Those with less time on the job pay for a portion of the cost.

(via Flickr/albertogp123)

The school superintendent in East St. Louis says some teachers used "inappropriate strategies and techniques" to inflate students scores on standardized achievement tests.

District 189 Superintendent Arthur Culver told the Belleville News-Democrat's editorial board on Wednesday that elementary test scores will likely drop this year. Culver didn't call the teachers' actions cheating and he didn't cite any schools by name. He also didn't describe or give examples of the questionable methods the teachers allegedly used.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The school year is over in East St. Louis, and the next one will mean only half of the school district's ten elementary schools will be left.

St. Louis' KMOV-TV reports the school system decided months ago that it planned to close five of its ten elementary schools as a result of declining enrollment. The district also cited the need to stabilize attendance and staffing.

Beginning Tuesday, schools superintendent Arthur Culver and other administrators will meet with affected parents to discuss the downsizing.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

A former top federal prosecutor has completed his state-launched probe of the cash-strapped East St. Louis public school system and has turned over his findings to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A. Courtney Cox had served as U.S. attorney for southern Illinois before being chosen last summer to review the 7,500-student district's spending, contracts and employee qualifications.

The school system has been beset by questions about millions of dollars in spending on consultants and conventions.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

Illinois' board of education says a former top federal prosecutor will head a probe it has launched into spending by East St. Louis' cash-strapped public school system.

Friday's announcement of the probe comes as the 7,500-student district is under state control and beset by questions about its paying millions on consultants and conventions.

The state board says the probe will be headed by A. Courtney Cox, southern Illinois' former U.S. attorney. His firm will be paid up to $100,000 a year to do the investigation, at the district's expense.


Another Mountain Lion Roaming Northwest Mo.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says a landowner in Macon County took pictures of large tracks in a muddy creek bed on April 20. The conservation department confirmed that the tracks belonged to a mountain lion.

(Flickr/ Jason Dunnivant

Ill. Senate Unanimously Approves Legislation Reducing Teacher Job Security

The Illinois Senate has unanimously approved sweeping legislation that would reduce teachers' job security and emphasize performance over seniority. The legislation would make it harder for teachers to achieve tenure. Even after getting tenure, bad teachers could be fired.  If a district has to make layoffs, jobs would be protected based on classroom performance instead of seniority.

(via Flickr/MforMarcus)

The nine-member Illinois State Board of Education has moved to take control of the financially and academically struggling East St. Louis School District 189.

(Flickr/Cast a Line)

East St. Louis School District Sends Layoff Notices to 237 Teachers

In an effort to save $9 million, the East St. Louis Board voted Tuesday to notify 287 teachers that they might not be hired back next year. That’s according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The district serves about 7,300 students and has 562 full-time teachers.

The district is also proposing to close three schools.