Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

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.

Students at Adams Elementary in St. Louis Sept 2016
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Schools’ elected board of education has continued to hold elections and conduct meetings, even though it’s had no authority over the district for a decade.

The task belongs to a Special Administrative Board, or SAB, which is appointed. As the district moves back to improved academic performance, the three-person SAB has said its time of rule is nearing an end. The governor of Missouri, the mayor of St. Louis and the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen each get to select one of the board members. 

Former President Bill Clinton exercises with fourth grader Jasmine Balven during a visit to Gateway Elementary School in St. Louis Nov. 1, 2017. Clinton visited the school to witness healthy food and exercise initiatives.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Former President Bill Clinton briefly exercised with elementary school students and kicked the tires of a retrofitted bus that delivers fresh produce to low-income neighborhoods during a Wednesday visit to St. Louis.

St. Louis is the third and final leg on a national tour of initiatives the 71-year-old’s foundation is supporting.

Students listen to a book reading during a giveaway event at Koch Elementary School in Riverview Gardens School District on March 2, 2017.
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Riverview Gardens School District is falsely boosting its attendance numbers under an orchestrated effort to regain full state accreditation, two district principals allege in federal lawsuits.

The principals, Danielle DeLoatch and Amanda Bell-Greenough, filed the suits on Tuesday against the north St. Louis County district, alleging that they faced disciplinary action and retaliation for objecting to changing attendance records.

Riverview Gardens, which is trying to return to good standing with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, denies the allegations.

St. Louis Community College freshman Isaiah Wilson, 19, rallies in support of adjunct faculty's contract negotiations on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College’s part-time faculty continued pressuring the school administration on Monday for a new contract with a rally on its Kirkwood-based, Meramec campus.

The protest comes a few days after a professor involved in those negotiations was tackled and arrested at a Board of Trustees meeting.

Marlysha Tucker of River Roads Lutheran School connects a wire in order to program a computer to turn on an LED light during a Webster University cyber workshop Oct. 21, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Webster University held a workshop Saturday to introduce middle school girls to computer science and cybersecurity, with a goal of encouraging them to pursue careers in the field.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, less than 20 percent of the country’s cybersecurity analysts are women. The field is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade.

Special education teacher Tiffany Andrews teaches a fourth grader about possessive nouns on Oct. 17, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a limited pool of people certified to teach special education in the St. Louis metro area, putting districts from St. Charles County to the Metro East in intense competition for qualified candidates.

Even more well-off schools feel the impact of the shortage, but schools with higher needs and less money often have the most trouble filling positions.

Ritenour teacher Deepa Jaswal helps her high school students at the district's International Welcome Center, which is for English-language learners, mark the regions of the United States on a map.
File | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When nearly half the students in a school can’t speak English, every teacher becomes a language instructor to some extent.

Recognizing that reality, federal grants will help Missouri public school districts and local universities to train more teachers to be help those students in the classroom.

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

Third-grader students who live in low-income homes  underperformed their more well-off classmates by 50 percentage points in seven Illinois school districts in 2016, according to the advocacy organization Voices for Illinois Children. 

In its annual Kids Count report released last week, the group also noted that only 22 percent of Metro East third-grade students met expectations on the most recent state English test.

Daje Shelton and her high-school boyfriend, Antonio Shumpert, welcome their baby boy, Ahkeem, into the world.
File | Provided | Jeff Truesdell

By the time Daje Shelton of St. Louis was 17, she’d already lost lots of friends to gun violence. One was shot while waiting at a bus stop, another while walking to the store.

Shelton had few outlets for expressing her grief and coping with emotions about that trauma. In her world, fighting, not talking, was a typical way to address conflict. After one fight, she was expelled from high school.

Shannan Muskopf | flickr

Thousands of Missouri students over the last three years have accepted a state-funded opportunity to take the ACT college entrance exam for free. After a $4 million cut to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s assessment budget, the state ended the program in July.

Now, school districts in the St. Louis region are finding money to allow students to take the ACT.

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