Education

Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation requiring high school students in Missouri to receive basic CPR training before graduating.

Senate Bill 711 doesn't require students to become CPR certified, but it does require them to attend a 30-minute presentation on how to perform hands-only CPR, along with the Heimlich maneuver "or other first aid for choking."

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
File photo |Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Missouri state school board praised progress made by Riverview Gardens in recent years Tuesday but postponed any vote that could upgrade its status from unaccredited.

Because the board put off until at least this fall any consideration of making the district provisionally accredited, students living in Riverview Gardens will remain eligible to transfer to nearby accredited schools in the coming school year.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks in St. Louis on Thursday June 9. The governor appointed three new members to the University of Missouri Board of Curators on Wednesday.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon expects the three new members of the University of Missouri System Board of Curator to hit the ground running on an important task: choosing a new president.

Nixon appointed Mary Nelson, Thomas Voss and Jon Sundvold to the board last week. As St. Louis Public Radio’s Dale Singer reported, the interim appointees can take office immediately, without confirmation by the Missouri Senate and can serve until Nixon’s successor takes office next year.

school buses
Flickr

The end isn’t near for the area’s long-running school desegregation program, but it’s coming.

Area school superintendents in charge of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. , which has run the program since a 1999 settlement established new rules the St. Louis-St. Louis County student transfers, are weighing one final five-year extension to the plan, taking it through the 2023-24 school year. They met Thursday to discuss the plan, with a final vote expected later this year.

Gov. Jay Nixon appointed three people to the University of Missouri Board of Curators, pictured from left: Mary Nelson, Jon Sundvold and Tom Voss
Provided by the governor's office

As the University of Missouri continues to search for a new system president, in the wake of racial protests, it will have a full nine-member Board of Curators to make the selection — and one of them will be the only African-American member.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday he was naming three new members to the board, plus a student representative from the Columbia campus. The interim appointees  can take office immediately, without confirmation by the Missouri Senate and serve until Nixon’s successor takes office next year.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon discusses the district's progress at a state hearing May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Riverview Gardens has made solid gains over the past two years, but Missouri education officials will not recommend that the state board upgrade the district from unaccredited to provisionally accredited for the coming school year.

A better level of accreditation would mean that students who live in the district could no longer transfer to schools in other districts, as they have since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state’s transfer law in 2013.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In January, Jennings Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Anderson, who is credited with turning around the district and helping it reach full accreditation, announced she was leaving to take the position of superintendent with Topeka Public Schools, effective July 1. 

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Updated at 2:16 p.m. Wednesday with withdrawal of suit: The mother of a student at Normandy High School who filed suit in federal court challenging the suspension of her daughter after a fight at the school last month, which involved adults as well as students, has withdrawn her suit.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Jennifer Williams and her daughter, a freshman  identified only by the initials J.M., says she “was summarily barred from attendance at the school without notice of a hearing and for no substantive fault of her own” after the fight on May 23. But her lawyer, Robert Herman, said Wednesday that because alternative arrangements for her daughter's education have been made, the lawsuit has been withdrawn.

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

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that the the Missouri State Board of Education acted outside of its authority when it  changed the accreditation status of the new Normandy Schools Collaborative.

St. Louis Public Schools

In 2007, the St. Louis Public Schools were placed under the control of a three-member appointed board. Its assignment was to fix problems in finance, governance and academic achievement.

The district has made progress in all three areas. A deficit became a surplus, infighting among board members has turned into civility, if not always unanimity, and student test scores have made steady gains. On its most recent state report card, the district, which was once unaccredited, scored solidly in the range for full accreditation.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon said he is optimistic the district will return to provisional accreditation, following a recommendation from the state department of elementary and secondary education board on Nov. 23, 2016.
Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

Summer school starts Monday for two of the three school districts in the region working to regain full accreditation from the state: provisionally accredited St. Louis Public Schools and unaccredited Riverview Gardens.

Normandy is finishing up its extended school year and starts summer school June 13.

St. Louis Public Schools

Updated at 12:50 p.m. June 1 with response from St. Louis Public Schools: Two parents who say their children have thrived in charter schools after struggling in St. Louis Public Schools want to have their voices heard in a lawsuit that could force charters in the city to lose tens of millions of dollars.

The parents filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking to intervene in the lawsuit filed in April by the city public schools against the way proceeds from a 1999 city sales tax for education has been distributed by the state.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

A former Missouri state representative is suing the University of Missouri and Joshua Hawley, a Republican candidate for attorney general, over delays by the university in responding to a wide-ranging request for emails and other documents.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway and audit manager Chris Vetter discuss findings from Fox school district May 25, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:00 a.m. May 26 with fuller response from Critchlow: Under former Superintendent Dianne Critchlow, the Fox school district in Jefferson County misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salaries and credit card purchases, and the district’s school board did nothing to stop the practice, a state audit found.

Auditor Nicole Galloway, who released the audit at a news conference in St. Louis on Wednesday, said her office rated the district as poor, the lowest possible. Because of that determination, she said, the auditor’s office will follow up on recommendations in the audit in the coming months.

Michael Lato, right, Harold Taylor and John Scates rehearse for a scene.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For six performances next month in Grand Center, military veterans – and one military spouse – will present the Telling Project, a stage play designed to help the public understand what it’s like to be in the armed forces, then return to civilian life.

It uses the actual words from area veterans recruited through the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But no one should attend the production thinking it will be a straight, factual rendition of life in uniform.

This isn’t the Truth Project. This is the Telling Project.

Jim Craig, Jacqueline Thompson and Harold Taylor joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to discuss "The Telling Project," which is a collaboration between UMSL and local veterans.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed a collaboration between UMSL and local veterans and their family members called “The Telling Project.” The project brings those veterans and families on stage to share their stories with the community.

For more background in the project, please read St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Dale Singer's feature on the project here

Here’s who joined the show:

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Part-time instructors at Saint Louis University have joined their colleagues at three other local campuses and voted to join the Service Employees International Union.

In results of mail-in balloting announced Monday, the unionization proposal won by a vote of 76 percent, 89-28.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

The University of Missouri “violated fundamental principles of academic due process” and endangered academic freedom when it fired Mizzou Communications Professor Melissa Click following her actions during protests in Columbia last fall, a new report on the situation said.

Facilitators from the National Conference for Community and Justice-St. Louis joined St. Louis on the Air to dicuss ways to "interrupt racism." Left to right: Sally Beth Lyon, Stefani Weeden-Smith and Dewitt Campbell.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

We've all been there: Someone says or does something racist. The question is: what do you do next?

Do you stay silent? Do you interject? What if it is a close family member? What if it is a perfect stranger you see doing something offensive on the street? Are there situations where you should not engage?

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
File: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuition at the University of Missouri’s four campuses will remain flat this fall for in-state undergraduate students.

St. Louis Public Schools

After a lively discussion, the Missouri state school board agreed Tuesday to convene a meeting that could lead to the St. Louis Public Schools returning to the control of an elected school board.

Since 2007, the city schools have been under the authority of a three-member appointed Special Administrative Board. Since the schools scored solidly in the full accreditation range on their most recent state report card, talk has increased about when the switch back to the elected board could occur.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. May 17 with comment from state board members

A task force looking into better ways to accredit Missouri school districts says the state should judge its schools like it judges its teachers — with a number of different measurements that don’t rely so heavily on student test scores.

In a report presented to the Missouri state board of education at its meeting in Jefferson City on Tuesday, the task force concluded that Missouri should retain accreditation of districts but change the criteria it uses to determine whether schools are accredited, provisionally accredited or unaccredited. The task force is made up of superintendents and others.

University of Missouri-Columbia

At a time when employees at two of its campuses face layoffs because of a financial crunch, curators of the University of Missouri spent $10,700 this week to meet at a Franklin County conference center rather than on university property.

The board held what it called a “development session” Wednesday at the Cedar Creek conference center in New Haven. No votes were taken at the meeting, whose agenda said it was held to discuss “board best practices.”

Tax credits | Flickr

Two days before St. Louis voters would decide the fate of a small sales tax increase to pay for school desegregation in 1999, the woman who started the effort to get  better schools for black students asked city voters to take a “leap of faith” and back the tax.

“Without a source for funding,” Minnie Liddell wrote in a letter to the Post-Dispatch with her attorney, William Douthit, “the agreement becomes an empty set of promises, unrealized goals and positive educational outcomes that might have been.”

The tax hike, two-thirds of a penny, won big. Now it’s back in the public eye, in a dispute over who should benefit from its proceeds.

clio1789 | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1Wk4Nen

Every year, thousands of students graduate from colleges and universities in the St. Louis region. So why are so many looking to take their talent elsewhere?

Local firm Stakeholder Insights conducted a study in collaboration with the St. Louis Regional Chamber to answer this question. Lisa Richter, Managing Principal of Stakeholder Insights, said that the study showed the main concerns graduates had when deciding to stay in the area were availability of jobs in their field, career growth opportunities, wages and benefits, a result that is no surprise.

Parkway North sophomore Israel Lewis puts a bracelet on Carla Gronsborg's wrist as her son Henry shows her his bracelet on Sat. May, 7, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A student organization launched after the unrest in Ferguson spent their Saturday encouraging baseball fans to be a positive force in St. Louis.

Outside Busch Stadium before the Cardinals game students with Gateway2Change started conversations with baseball fans by handing out bracelets made of seeds.

Riverview Gardens students entertain before Thursday night's state hearing, May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When he opened Thursday night’s state hearing on the status of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens schools, assistant education commissioner Chris Neale spelled out the two big decisions the district faces.

First, the state school board will decide, as early as next month, whether the district’s progress merits an upgrade to provisional accreditation.

Ferguson-Florissant schools superintendent Joseph Davis watches as Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes a measure that would have changed the state's school funding formula on May 4, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:27 p.m. May 5 with House veto override - The same day that Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo. vetoed a measure that would have changed the way school funding is calculated, the Missouri Senate voted to override that move. One day later, the House overrode the veto as well. The measure now becomes law.

According to the governor, "The cheapening of the foundation formula would break a promise that we have made to our local schools and students that they educate. This is a cynical policy that I cannot and will not support." He made his comments Wednesday at an appearance at Ferguson Middle School, in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

La'Shieka White talks about the lawsuit involving her son, Edmund Lee, on May 4, 2016. Attorney Joshua Thompson is at left.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

A black third-grader's effort to continue at his St. Louis charter school even though his family has moved to St. Louis County has gone to federal court.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, based in California, announced Wednesday that it had filed the lawsuit seeking to reverse long-standing provisions of the area-wide school desegregation settlement that bars African-American students living in the county from transferring to city public schools, including charters.

KT Klng | Flickr

A panel looking at the finances of Education Plus, the training and purchasing cooperative made up of more than 60 area public school districts, found that budget figures concealed deficit spending, overstated revenue and understated expenses.

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