Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

File | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The search has begun for Missouri’s next education commissioner, even though there currently aren’t enough board members to vote on hiring Margie Vandeven’s successor.

Ten people applied for the job by Monday’s deadline. But Board of Education President Charlie Shields said they can’t even review their applications until there are at least five voting members on the State Board.

Normandy marching band performs during the VP Parade in Forest Park Saturday, July 4, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Tuesday was supposed to be a monumental day for Normandy’s public school district. It was kicking off 2018 with a distinction it had not enjoyed in almost five years: It was no longer unaccredited in the eyes of the state school board.

Instead, school was canceled because of below-zero morning temperatures. Leadership at Normandy Schools Collaborative, as the district has been known since a reconfiguration in 2014, still took a few minutes to acknowledge the milestone.

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney  disscussed the top local education stories of 2017.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the top local education stories of 2017 with St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney.

Boxes of classroom furniture sit ready to be unpacked in the gymnasium of Stone Creek Elementary, which was finished weeks before the Wentzville school year started in August. The district wants to build two more schools to keep up with growth.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Wentzville School District just opened two new school buildings in August. But now officials are plotting out two more.

The St. Charles County school district’s board of education approved putting a bonding measure on the April 2018 ballot on Thursday. It will allow the district to borrow enough money for two more new schools and additions for four others.

Maplewood Richmond Heights teacher Otto Schultejans received a painting from a challenging student with the Beatles' lyric "nothing's going to change my world." It became "her way of saying ‘yeah, you actually did change my world.’”
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It can be a parade of baked goods into classrooms the week before winter break. Gift cards tend to stack up on teachers’ desks. But sometimes, a gift overwhelms a teacher — and it’s kept for decades.

In the final days before winter break, teachers and students will wrap up the fall semester and dash home to celebrate the holidays. Before that, many students will present to their favorite teachers gifts, large and small; hand-made and store-bought; expensive and not-so-much.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Lauren Coale sends students in her math classes home with videos on how to do complicated algebra or geometry problems.

Instead of lecturing her students, Coale’s class time at Lindbergh High School is free for student interaction, instead of instruction on the overhead projector.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

With the task of going through a state Senate confirmation process approaching, Gov. Eric Greitens’ picks to the Missouri State Board of Education successfully sped up the process of finding an education commissioner over the objections of the board’s president.

The governor’s five nominees outflanked three other board members during a teleconference Thursday to open and close the application process for a new education commissioner before an early January meeting. The board fired Commissioner Margie Vandeven Dec. 1 over objections of lawmakers from both sides as well as leaders and supporters of traditional school districts.

St. Louis Community College student lie on the floor and chant during a Nov. 30, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting in an effort to delay a vote on teacher layoffs and budget cuts. Five of those students are now facing disciplinary action from the school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

At least five students at St. Louis Community College received a letter summoning them to a meeting with their dean of students to talk about disciplinary action over a protest at a Board of Trustees meeting last week.

Those five, along with other students and professors, caused an hour-long delay for a vote over cutting the college’s faculty and staff. Ultimately, the trustees approved the cuts during a confusing and raucous meeting on Nov. 30.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s top public school leaders are getting larger salary bumps than the teachers they’re overseeing, according to an audit from state auditor Nicole Galloway.

The audit released Monday found a large gap in the pay range of superintendents which is not always based on district size. Overall, superintendent pay is up 31 percent from 12 years ago, according to the auditor. During that same time, teacher salaries increased 22 percent.

Margie Vandeven gets a hug from a supporter after the State Board of Education voted 5-3 to remove her as Education Commissioner.
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens got his wish to install a new education chief Friday after enough of his appointees to the state's board of education voted to remove commissioner Margie Vandeven.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted 5-3 to oust Vandeven, according to board member Mike Jones, from St. Louis. It was the second vote on Vandeven’s status in the past couple of weeks.

File | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s school district has surpassed a “milestone” in its long turnaround process.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously Friday to raise the district’s classification up to “provisionally accredited,” a change from the failing status at which it’s languished the past five years. The reclassification will bring an end to a program that’s caused the district to lose scores of students and millions of dollars to other schools.

St. Louis Community College trustee Joan McGivney makes a motion during votes to cut college employees as students shout in protest during a board of trustees meeting Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College’s workforce will shrink again as the institution tries to combat what administrators say is a looming budget crisis.

The college’s board of trustees approved a budget reduction plan Thursday during a raucous meeting that included a lengthy delay by protesters. The budget cuts include the second buyout package this year — plus layoffs of full-time teachers and staff. The plan also increases employee health care costs and eliminates other staff benefits.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
File | Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri education officials could elevate the long-troubled Normandy school district out of unaccredited status.

Officials at Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are expected to recommend the state Board of Education reclassify Normandy Schools Collaborative as “provisionally accredited” at its monthly meeting Friday.

David Wise feeds his 9-month-old son, Pablo, at their home in St. Louis' Tower Grove East neighborhood. Wise quit his part-time job at a coffee shop instead of paying for day care.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

David Wise does the diaper changes and feedings for his 9-month-old son, Pablo. Wise is a stay-at-home dad and they've read hundreds of books together.

There’s a federally-funded Head Start child care center just a few blocks away in St. Louis’ Tower Grove East neighborhood that could care for Pablo. But Wise’s family earns too much to qualify and day care centers that charge money are too expensive for them.

Central Elementary in Ferguson opened in 1880 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ferguson-Florissant School District has floated the idea of closing the school.
Provided | U.S. Department of Interior

Residents in the Ferguson-Florissant School District are speaking out against shuttering two historic schools in the district.

District administrators are trying to quell the rumors and say no decision on buildings has been made.

Provided | Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Updated at 2:15 p.m. with governor's comments —

Missouri’s commissioner of education survived a rare move to oust her by appointees of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

The State Board of Education, though stacked with appointees by Greitens, did not vote in favor of firing Margie Vandeven in a closed-door meeting Tuesday. The board tied 4-4.

Fontbonne University opened in Clayton in 1923. It's buying the closed John F. Kennedy High School in Manchester for a west St. Louis County campus.
Provided | Fontbonne University

In a move to “significantly expand enrollment,” Fontbonne University is buying the recently shuttered John F. Kennedy High School in western St. Louis County to be a new home for the Catholic University’s athletics and continuing education.

Leaders of Fontbonne and the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced the transfer of ownership of the Manchester-based property at a news conference Monday morning. A price on the property sale was not disclosed.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy and Riverview Gardens  received high enough state academic performance scores to get the north St. Louis County-based school districts in better standing with state education leaders.

Two districts in the region — St. Louis City and Ferguson-Florissant — saw their annual performance scores dip below the threshold the state considers to be fully accredited. Pattonville and Orchard Farms both received perfect scores.

No district in the state earned marks that would be considered failing in the Annual Performance Report, or APR, published Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. APR is a key indicator on how well schools are educating students.

St. Louis Community College Chancellor Jeff Pittman at a Board of Trustees meeting on April 20, 2017.
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College could once again cut its faculty and staff this year as it continues to lose students and state funding.

The public two-year college’s Board of Trustees listened to feedback Tuesday for more than an hour to a budget reduction plan at its downtown headquarters.

Ray Cummings, second from left, a St. Louis Public Schools teacher and member of the governance task force, asks a question during a meeting Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A task force assigned with recommending how St. Louis Public Schools should be governed heard a consistent message from city residents during a series of public meetings: Return control of the district back to an elected board of education.

At three meetings over the past 10 days, St. Louis residents repeatedly said that the appointed, three-person Special Administrative Board, or SAB, has achieved its objective during a decade of running SLPS — and contended that a democratically elected board should control the district again.

Pages