Scott Spurgeon

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.
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.

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

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.

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.

school buses

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri state board of education unanimously approved on Tuesday a framework for an accelerated review of the accreditation status of the Riverview Gardens School District.

But a key question that hangs over the whole process remains unsettled: What happens to students who have transferred from the district under state law if its status is upgraded?

school buses

Every school day, bright yellow buses transport thousands of students to class – some traveling across long distances to districts far from their homes,  most others staying within a district’s boundaries, whether it is compact like Ladue or sprawling like Parkway or Rockwood.

And that doesn’t count homeless students or others whose route is so specialized that their transportation is by taxi, just one or two at a time.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon
Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

For three of the St. Louis area's low-performing school districts, this year's Annual Performance Review showed marked improvement. But the success has not been even across the board.

While St. Louis Public Schools' score takes it out of the provisionally accredited zone and Riverview Gardens' improvements could be the first step toward regaining its accredited status, Normandy School District is still below the margin. The key to these districts' successes isn't universal.

Tiffany Anderson appears before the state board of education in Jefferson City Tuesday.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Updated at 11:33 a.m. with testimony at board meeting:

Riding the crest of improvement on the state’s annual evaluation, Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson sees full accreditation and further gains in the future for the north St. Louis County district.

And Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon, whose district is now the only one in Missouri that is unaccredited, says his staff have laid the foundation for classroom success.   

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - As superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District since July 1, Scott Spurgeon has an array of facts and figures, plans and practices that he says can help the district regain accreditation.

But, he told a hearing called by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Wednesday night, he also has one solid indicator that things are looking up.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Yesterday, we profiled the new superintendent at the Normandy schools.

Now, we introduce you to the man who finds himself in the same position at another struggling school district- Riverview Gardens. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Even though classes start Monday for the Riverview Gardens School District, as of Friday morning Micah Pope hadn’t gotten in to any of the districts where she wanted to transfer. So her mother planned to keep the eighth-grader home rather than have her go back to a school she thinks is inadequate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Eric Knost, superintendent of schools in Mehlville, remembers clearly the three words he heard Tuesday evening that could bring big changes to his south St. Louis County district.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Cooperating School Districts will act as a clearinghouse for students who live in Riverview Gardens and Normandy and want to transfer to accredited school districts under a law recently upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court.