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Education

Visitors to schools likely are used to seeing a sign on the entrance prohibiting firearms. Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts with armed staff to warn attackers they'll be met with "deadly force."
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Most visitors to schools are used to seeing a sign on the entrance making it clear that firearms are prohibited on school property.

Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts that allow some teachers to carry guns to post a sign reading: "Under Missouri law, this school and its staff are authorized to meet threats to student safety with deadly force if necessary."

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small number of rural Missouri school districts are allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. Instead of following a state law that sets out how districts can arm teachers, the schools are using a private security firm to oversee training.

Some say that raises legal and liability questions.

Nearly 100 Missouri school districts contain parts of the Mark Twain National Forest but can't collect property taxes on it. A program splitting timber revenue profits between the U.S. Forest Service and those schools was renewed.
John W. Iwanski | Flickr

The federal spending plan approved by Congress this week renews a program splitting lumber profits between the U.S. Forest Service and rural school districts within federal forestland, after the equal sharing agreement lapsed in 2014.

Nearly 100 schools in southern Missouri contain parts of the Mark Twain National Forest. Some pruned budgets and put off buying buses after drops in timber payments of more than $100,000 each of the past two fiscal years.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

Jeremy Meuser, 13, refects during the school walkout at Maplewood Richmond Heights.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Students in St. Louis — and around the country — walked out of school Wednesday morning as part of a national call for improved school safety and tighter gun-control measures.

Richard Gaines, center, of the Special Administrative Board, speaks during  a joint meeting with the St. Louis Elected School Board Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The first joint meeting between St. Louis’ two school boards could be seen as the starting gun many in the community have wanted to hear for a decade. For others, it’s a reminder of a troubled past for the school system. But a return of St. Louis Public Schools to elected control likely won’t be a sprint, but rather a slow walk to June 2019.

The seven-member Board of Education flanked a three-person Special Administrative Board, or SAB, during a special meeting Tuesday night at SLPS’s headquarters to begin the process of transitioning back to democratic control.

The students will participate in after-school, mentor and summer programs to help them learn skills that could help them in and outside of school, such as conflict management.
Stephanie Zimmerman

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is one of ten agencies in the U.S. to receive a large federal grant to address trauma among youth in low-income areas.

The department will receive about $425,000 a year for four years to operate Project RESTORE, or Reconciliation and Empowerment to Support Tolerance and Race Equity, in partnership with county police, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and three north County school districts: Hazelwood, University City and Normandy.

Candidates for the Parkway School Board listen to a question during a candidate forum Monday, March 12, 2018, at Parkway Central Middle School.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Parkway School District parents filled a middle school cafeteria for a school board candidate forum Monday night that usually attracts only enough parents to fill a single classroom.

Interest in the race spiked in January, when social media posts by one of the candidates were circulated among parent groups. Several parents said the views expressed on Twitter by Jeanie Ames are racist and out of line with the mission of the west St. Louis County district.

Donye' Winston, 12, reacts to something her classmate Mahlia Pryor, 11, says during their gifted learning class on March 7, 2018, at Normandy's Washington Elementary School.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Discontinued during the turmoil of unaccreditation and reincorporation, a gifted learning program has returned to Normandy’s elementary schools.

At Washington Elementary, about a dozen students who tested two grade levels higher on an intelligence aptitude test are in the program. The students, ranging from third to sixth grade, gather twice a week to work on special projects in what was once an unused classroom.

Clayton High School students leave class during a walkout and press conference to call for improved school security on Feb. 23, 2018, a week after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Florida high school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Students across the St. Louis region are planning school walkouts this week as part of a national call for improved school safety and tighter gun-control measures.

Students at more than a dozen schools in the area are planning events Wednesday morning in response to the mass school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. That’s left school officials to figure out the best way to respond: should they support student involvement and civic engagement, or should they enforce school rules?

McCormack Lake in the Mark Twain National Forest. Nearly 100 Missouri school districts contain parts of the federal land but can't collect property taxes on it.
doc jayhawk | Flickr

Superintendent Tim Hager’s district in central Missouri is surrounded by federal forestland in every direction.

School buses shuttle some of the 366 students in the Iron County C-4 School District between their homes dotted throughout the national forestland and the school campus in the small town of Viburnum.

The drive on tough gravel roads beats the buses up, Hager said, but he hasn’t been receiving the big checks from the U.S. Forest Service he once got, so he’s putting off buying a new bus.

A boy named LaRon enjoys a class at the former Intersect Arts Center building, before the organization moved into its new renovated space.
Intersect Arts Center

St. Louis artist Sarah Bernhardt had no idea she’d be teaching children when she first moved into her Gravois Park studio. But that changed after a rock sailed through her window and she invited a teenager with a good throwing arm to come inside for an art project.

That was five years ago, in the early days of her Intersect Arts Center, 3636 Texas Ave. A $3 million renovation recently transformed the center, but the commitment to free art classes for local kids remains a cornerstone.

A parent listens during an information session on using 529 savings plans for private K-12 education at St. Pius X High School in Festus Tuesday, march 6, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Parents with children in private schools are filling gymnasiums and cafeterias to learn how they can take advantage of a new tax break to save money on tuition.

Traditionally, so-called 529 plans were a way for parents to stash money away to pay for their child’s college education, without having to pay taxes on the gains. The federal tax overhaul plan enacted late last year changed rules around 529 plans so they can also be used to pay for private K-12 school tuition, up to $10,000 a year.

Samuel Williams helps his two children onto the Jefferson Elementary School morning shuttle bus Friday, March 2, 2018. Williams said since it started in January, the shuttle provides safety and a routine for getting to school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Most students at Jefferson Elementary live within a mile of the school, meaning they’re within walking distance under St. Louis Public Schools’ transportation policy.

Yet Jefferson’s principal, Kristen Taylor, said kids in the near north side Carr Square neighborhood were often late or didn’t show up at all. Attendance for the school’s roughly 225 students at the end of the first semester was nearly 20 percent below the state’s desired 90-percent level for schools.

Niah Ester and Anjali Adhikari pose for a portrait at the annual Educators for Social Justice conference.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Anjali Adhikari and Niah Ester teamed up for a class project last summer, they had one goal – to teach educators at Northeast Middle School all about microaggressions.

The seventh graders never imagined their work would make it from their Creve Coeur school into classrooms across the St. Louis region. But since then, they’ve created and led training sessions for dozens of teachers, counselors and school administrators.

A Parkway Central High School student signs a petition calling for efforts to make schools safer during an after-school press conference Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

School counselors in Missouri already have high student caseloads and added duties, even as teachers, students and parents here and around the country call for more mental health services in schools to prevent future mass shootings.

Missouri, and most other states, have a shortage of school guidance counselors — and limited money to hire more.

Sasha Walchli, an English language teacher at Parkway's Green Trails Elementary, works with third-graders on learning continents. Walchi has 43 students at the school, twice as many as when she started 10 years ago.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Radi and Hadi Hamdan’s English is getting better, slowly. Sitting in the living room of their Florissant home on a recent evening, they struggled to get through more than introducing themselves before switching back to Arabic.

The 12-year-old twins moved to the northern St. Louis suburb from the West Bank last summer, finally reuniting with their father, who has lived in the United States for two decades.

The twins are seventh-graders in Hazelwood School District’s West Middle School. Radi likes art class. Hadi’s favorite subject is math. They also need intense English-language instruction in order to follow other courses.

Jamaiyah Redmond and Chloé Guerin, both Clayton High School juniors, while listening to classmates call for school safety improvements Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

High school students in St. Louis are lending their voice to the national debate about making schools safer.

On Friday morning, a few dozen student from Clayton High School trudged across a soggy field in front of their school and called for an assault-weapons ban in Missouri and money for security upgrades to schools.

McCluer High School theater students rehearse “Man of La Mancha” at the Florissant Civic Center. Feb. 21, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis schoolchildren in well-funded school districts often enjoy newer amenities like updated textbooks and newer technology. They may also have an advantage when it comes to the arts.

The disparity of resources is illustrated by theater departments at two local high schools. Clayton High School, whose students are mostly white, gets more help from the district and the community. In Florissant, predominantly African-American McCluer High School largely relies on the theater director, Doug Erwin, for funding.

Ty'Chila Thomas answers trivia questions during a L.O.V.E Project session at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. Feb. 14, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For three years Shante Duncan has facilitated The L.O.V.E. Project with freshman girls at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. She talks to the girls about school and anything else they want to share about their personal lives.

This month, Duncan centered the session around important African-American females, from Ida B. Wells to Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cervical cancer cells advanced medical research.

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