Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Parents and alumni wave signs welcoming students back to Normandy High School for the 2013 school year.
File photo: Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s schools will remain under the control of a state-appointed board for three more years, education officials said Tuesday, adding that they are optimistic about students’ academic progress in the state’s only unaccredited school district.

Jared Leppert, a graduate student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, conducts a learning test with a student at St. Louis College Prep on Monday, May 8, 2017. The charter school hired Leppert as an intern.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers assigned higher education institutions primary oversight of charter schools when authorizing them 20 years ago. Universities know a thing or two about schools, after all.

It’s not the norm when it comes to charter schools in the United States, though, as a majority of the 42 states (and Washington, D.C.) put the independent schools’ governance in the hands of a local school board.

Trish Nguyen works on a graph in a second-grade class at Confluence Academy South City on April 28, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Gateway Science Academy wants families to be satisfied. City Garden Montessori is aiming for racial equity. Neither are unique goals for charter schools in St. Louis.

 

Most of the city’s 17 public charter school systems have their own definition of success, including academic growth, family involvement and personal development. But they’re also required by Missouri law to take the state’s academic standards into account.

 

And without a definitive way to measure success, parents have to trust that the schools are doing right by their children.

Students working in a classroom of Gateway Science Academy in April 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been nearly 20 years since charter schools took root in Missouri, bringing independently operated but publicly funded education to St. Louis and Kansas City.

Often touted as a means of allowing parents flexibility when it comes to their kids’ education, “school choice” expansion is growing in favor among Republican politicians, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

In the coming months, St. Louis Public Radio will detail the world of charter schools. But, as any teacher would tell you, an introductory lesson is the first place to start.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Updated, 7:40 p.m. with statement from Washington University —

About 120 full-time faculty members who aren’t eligible for tenure at Washington University will be able to decide whether to unionize before the end of the school year.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

Updated 6 p.m. April 28 to correct that Missouri would be among the only states with an abortion notification law — The only thing Missouri lawmakers must do in the final two weeks of 2017 legislative session is pass the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

But there are a whole lot of things they could do — some of which Gov. Eric Greitens wants them to do — such as tightening abortion regulations, raising the standard for workplace discrimination and creating the last-in-the-country prescription drug monitoring program.

Courtesy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Updated at 5 p.m. with UM System tuition proposal — The University of Missouri-St. Louis is on pace to close its $15 million dollar budget deficit ahead of schedule.

UMSL’s top financial officer told administrators this week that the school should finish the fiscal year, which ends June 30, about $500,000 in the black instead of being $3.6 million over budget.

Collinsville pitcher Ryan Siverly tries to apply a tag on O'Fallon's Jacob Dryer in a high school baseball game Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in Collinsville, Illinois. Players at both schools have to pay a fee to play sports.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Metro East school superintendents are among the 413 public school leaders who are calling on Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-majority legislature to pass a budget after nearly two years of disagreements, and fully fund public education.

The downtown headquarters building for the St. Louis Public Schools
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Metro Academic and Classical High School is again among the nation’s 500 best in making its students ready for college.

U.S. News and World Report issued its annual rankings Tuesday, looking at more than 22,000 public high schools in the country, based on math and reading test scores, graduation rates and college preparedness.

Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College will offer nearly 40 percent of its full-time workforce an early retirement package due to fewer students on its campuses and fewer dollars coming from the Missouri Capitol.

The four-campus network’s Board of Curators approved the plan Thursday night, which college leadership said will allow the school to offer programs and services that boost enrollment and ultimately revenue.

via Flickr | frankjuarez

Parents in the Hazelwood School District who were concerned that administrators are being too well compensated while other areas of the school system get cut successfully prompted a state audit of the district’s finances.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway announced the audit Tuesday, but said it’s too early to say what her office is looking for.

Andy Sminds / Flickr

Missouri education officials decided Tuesday to no longer aim for its public schools to be ranked among the nation’s 10 best by 2020.

The Missouri State Board of Education’s course correction comes amid changing federal education policies.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Many high-achieving and low-income high school students bound for college get an assist from the state of Missouri in the form of modest scholarships.

The trouble is that budget constraints have left programs that help both groups of students underfunded and unable to keep up with rising tuition. That’s bad news for high school seniors who’ll be choosing where to go to school in the coming weeks.

St. Louis Public Schools elected board president Susan Jones speaks during a meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of St. Louis’ elected school board waited until after this month’s election to start clamoring to resume talks over regaining control of the city’s public schools. They’ll have to wait a bit longer, though, the state says.

Elected board President Susan Jones said the election of two new members is a proof enough that its reputation of dysfunction and mismanagement, which led to losing control a decade ago, is a thing of the past.

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

Republicans hope the omnibus education bill in front of the Senate will take care of major priorities for Gov. Eric Greitens’ and themselves.

Chelsea Clinton speaks to students and parents at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur Friday, April 7, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Long before Chelsea Clinton lived in the White House, she wrote then-President Ronald Reagan a letter, imploring him to not visit a Nazi cemetery on an upcoming visit to Germany.

The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday shared the letter, which was adorned with a rainbow sticker, with students at Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur.

Flickr | alkruse24

Hours after measures to increase the sales tax for schools failed in both Madison and St. Clair counties, two school districts from each county sued the state.

Bethalto, Cahokia, Grant and Wood River-Hartford schools joined more than a dozen other southern Illinois districts in the suit. They want the state to provide enough funding so districts can meet the state's new learning standards.

East St. Louis students spend about a month without school last fall due to a teacher strike. In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo students spend their free day outside the school district office.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The East St. Louis School District is one of 10 Illinois schools that will help design a learning plan based not on how much time students spend listening to their teacher, but rather how many skills they’ve mastered.

It’s a new approach to education called competency-based learning, meant to transition away from credit hours that traditionally have tracked a student’s progress.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in University of Missouri System are considering layoffs as it makes adjustments in the face of a major loss in state funding and shrinking enrollment, system President Mun Choi said Monday.

In Choi’s open letter, which starts the process of making deep budget cuts to the state’s largest provider of higher education, he said the four campuses will need to trim 8 percent to 12 percent out of their budgets. The cuts will target specific programs and not be across-the-board, he said.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis area are asking voters Tuesday to consider various funding measures.

Two Metro East counties are hoping to join more than 40 others in Illinois that have started using sales tax increases to bolster school funding in the face of less state support due to a nearly two-year budget crisis.

And in St. Louis County, there are a half-dozen funding measures. Kirkwood would raise property taxes, while the rest are bonding measures, all of which need to pass with about 57 percent of the vote. The largest bonding measure, in the Rockwood district, seeks to spend $95.5 million on a new elementary school in Eureka and expand other buildings.

The St. Louis Public Schools elected board discusses business during its June meeting as state board of education member Vic Lenz looks on.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Schools’ elected board hasn’t had direct control of the district for a decade. Regaining that control from the state may hinge on the April 4 election, when voters will choose from among seven candidates for three open seats.

Board member Bill Monroe is seeking a second term. But the president of the SLPS board and some state-level education officials see his continued presence as a possible disruption in getting back local control.

Malindi Henning answers questions during a science class at Miriam School in Webster Groves. (March 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Miriam School is a small, private school in Webster Groves that serves children who've struggled to learn in typical classrooms. Thirteen percent of its students are adopted.

At first glance, that may seem surprising, as nationally, fewer than 2 percent of school-aged children are adopted. But studies suggest that adopted and foster children suffer from learning disabilities at twice the rate as children raised by both birth parents. For adoptive parents, that may mean a greater challenge in finding the right school or learning environment for their child.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

A long, slow decline in both state funding and enrollment has public colleges in Illinois cutting staff and increasing tuition. In the face of a financial shortfall, it would seem campuses would seek out every dollar available.

But Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University are trying a different tactic. They’re eliminating higher out-of-state tuition rates so any undergrad from any state will pay what used to be the lower in-state tuition.

University of Missouri President Mun Choi, shown here in November 2016, detailed cuts across the UM System campuses.
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri System’s incentive program for its top executives is being terminated just a few days after a state audit found the program lacked transparency.

New UM System President Mun Choi acknowledged the current program’s lack of transparency was a part of his decision to end it, but he also said paying “the market rate” for administrators is key to the university’s overall success.

Quadrangle at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
(Flickr Creative Commons User Adam Procter)

Updated at 6:10 p.m. with Greitens' statement — Missouri’s auditor criticized the University of Missouri System on Monday for giving excessive bonuses and other incentives to several current and former top administrators at a time when the system grapples with funding cuts and mulls raising tuition.

The Milburn campus of O'Fallon Township High School, where the district's ninth-graders attend class.
O'Fallon Township High School via Facebook

Updated March 3, 2017 with results of an emergency meeting — A Metro East high school has reversed the severity of its planned teacher cuts for next school year.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the O’Fallon Township High School board of education unanimously approved a new budget deficit reduction plan. The new plan eliminates four classroom teaching positions instead of six full-time and one part-time teacher.  Guidance counseling and library services are no longer impacted by the cuts.

Julie Dubray, co-author of the children's book Goodnight St. Louis, reads to students at Koch Elementary Schools on March 2, 2017.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

Second-graders at a predominantly low-income north St. Louis County school district went home with new books Thursday as part of a national reading day.

Two St. Louis children’s authors spent part of the afternoon at Koch Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens district, which is struggling with reading proficiency. Just 17 percent of third-graders at Koch Elementary School were considered to be at state standards for reading in 2015, though the district has improved enough regain provisional accreditation.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Some trustees for the St. Louis Public School Retirement System have been traveling extensively on the system’s dime and answered questions at Monday's board meeting about the benefits of such trips.

The seeming infighting among members of the board, which controls the pension fund for about 10,000 current and retired employees, stems from two trustees racking up the bulk of the nearly $117,000 in travel expenses from 2012 to 2016.

River Roads Lutheran School

Updated 5 p.m. Feb. 28 with decision on school's future – The 78 students of River Roads Lutheran School on St. Louis’ north side will not need to find a new school to attend mid-year.

The school community raised $136,000 — enough to stay open until at least June, principal Yvonne Boyd announced Tuesday.

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