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.
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.
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.
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.