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St. Louis Public Schools

Kindergartener Maram Alhamadah sings an alphabet song at Nahed Chapman New American Academy, one of two programs dedicated to English-language learners at St. Louis Public Schools.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will make it easier for three Missouri districts to meet new federal accountability metrics for students learning English.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:20 p.m. Aug. 15 with details from the State Board of Education meeting — Missouri’s board of education will stay out of the process to return decision-making control to St. Louis Public Schools after a decade, at least for now.

The decision came Tuesday at the Missouri State Board of Education meeting.

Though ending state oversight of SLPS is up to the board, it has no obligation to be involved in the transition process.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:45 p.m. August 2 to correct the percentage of KIPP St. Louis' budget that goes toward marketing in 7th paragraph Photos of smiling children in school uniforms grace the sides of buses, large billboards and flyers in mailboxes throughout the St. Louis area. Those images — and the selling points written underneath them — are meant for parents trying to figure out which school to send their kids.

With the dozens of charter schools and St. Louis Public Schools vying for students (and the state tax dollars that follow), the institutions have to act more like businesses, marketing themselves — sometimes heavily.

Katey Finnegan demonstrates how to use the chill zone, a space where students can take time to regroup while at the Maplewood Richmond Heights district's Student Success Center.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-area school districts are in the midst of a discipline revolution. After the Ferguson Commission in 2015 recommended banning suspensions for students in kindergarten through third grade, schools began looking at how to address the root causes of difficult behavior.

Twenty-one districts pledged to at least attempt to reduce suspensions, and two have followed through, but officials say it can be tough to do without substantially investing time and money.

Shelia Price marches against violence with her grandchildren Saturday, March 19, 2016 in north St. Louis. Her son died from a gun shot 20 years ago.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said earlier this week that he’ll provide more trauma counseling services to St. Louis’ public schools as part of a broader plan to reduce violent crime in the city.

It’s a strategy the school district says it had no part in crafting.

Tisha and Branden Brooks look over their daughter Avery's second-grade writing journal at their home in the Shaw neighborhood as son Alex (partially hidden) looks on. May 2017
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As President Donald Trump’s administration explores ways to expand charter schools across the country, parents in national surveys and those in St. Louis point to academic quality as their highest priority in selecting a school.

Research suggests that parents often don’t have a way to accurately compare the public education options. And there are several factors that parents take into account — including word-of-mouth and proximity to one’s home — though more often than not, they choose a charter school or district school based on their child’s current and future success instead of the school’s overall performance.

Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson takes her turn as a crossing guard.
Jennings School District

A federally funded after-school program used by a dozen St. Louis-area school districts with a high proportion of low-income students is among the targets of President Donald Trump’s proposed education budget cuts.

Students at Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience take two science classes a year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in more than a decade, the St. Louis public school district is celebrating the first graduating class of a new high school.

The Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience gave diplomas to 44 seniors Sunday.

While still too new to have much of a track record, Collegiate’s high standardized test scores help the highly selective magnet school stand out from a crowded field of science-themed schools in the city.

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.

Mallinckrodt Academy for Gifted Instruction on Hampton Ave. in south St. Louis finished transitioning into a gifted elementary school in the fall of 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis Public Schools prepares to add a first grade gifted classroom in north St. Louis in the fall, the overwhelming majority of students eligible for gifted instruction in the district continue to be white.

According to a program update presented to the district’s state-appointed board in March, 81 white students tested this school year qualify compared to 29 black students, 9 Hispanic students and 24 Asian students.

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.

Cedric Deshay and Jeavon Gill walk into the mayor's office to receive their high school diplomas on April 13, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Just four months after the launch of a new, 24-hour high school for students in danger of dropping out, two young men from St. Louis received their diplomas Thursday.

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.

St. Louis Public Schools curriculum instructor Sylvester McClain talks to Workforce High School student Cedric Deshay on Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Cedric Deshay has seen a lot in his 17 years. His dad died when he was a baby, followed by his mom when he was 13. Gun violence plagues his northeast St. Louis neighborhood; a recent killing was three houses down.

"I was falling behind in classes, falling asleep in class and stuff because of what was going on at home,” he explained. It was to the point that when his senior year began in August, Cedric was at risk of dropping out.

Officer Nate McCraw enjoying a chess game with public school students.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The current climate of community and police relations in our country has forced law enforcement agencies to examine what tactics work well and what areas pose challenges. Officers work extremely hard day in and day out to keep the citizens of our community safe. However, the focus on building relationships while performing their jobs should also be a priority and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is committed to finding opportunities to build better community relationships, especially with youth. Now, they are doing so through chess.

Darnetta Clinkscale, left, joins Rick Sullivan and Richard Gaines (right) on the SAB board for her first meeting Sept. 26, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Even though the St. Louis public school system is now fully accredited, the city school district continues to be run by a state-appointed board.

Conversations with state board of education members indicate that it could remain that way for a while.

Eric Mitchell picks up his daugther Keyannah and son Kobe after school on Jan. 11, 2017. Both children are in fourth grade at Preclarus Mastery Academy.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As the St. Louis public school district emerges from the long shadow cast by 16 years of failing to measure up to state standards, it joins the ranks of Missouri's accredited school districts with another distinction: a better performance record than about half of the charter schools in the district’s footprint.

Moments after the state board of education voted to reclassify the district as fully accredited last week, the board got word that another St. Louis charter school, Preclarus Mastery Academy, will likely close this year due to poor performance.

Now that St. Louis Public Schools have regained accreditation, could the city’s educational landscape shift in response? Might parents start preferring the district's schools over charters and other alternatives?

It will take years to measure enrollment trends, but parents and educators have decided views on what direction they want to see trends take.

Students at St. Louis Public Schools' Mason Elementary met Gov. Jay Nixon when he toured their school Jan. 5, 2017  in recognition of the district's pending accreditation.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on Tuesday, January 10: The State Board of Education officially granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation, a key milestone for a district that's improved after years of struggle.

The state board gave unanimous approval to upgrade St. Louis Public Schools’ status from provisionally accredited to fully accredited. Officials with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cited the district's rising test scores, improved attendance rates and fiscal stability as the reasons for recommending the change.

Langston Middle School in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood is one of two schools the district is closing at the end of 2016-2017 school year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When two public schools in northwest St. Louis release their students for summer break in June, they’ll be closing their doors for good.

St. Louis Public School’s Special Administrative Board unanimously voted Tuesday to close Cote Brilliante Elementary in the Ville neighborhood and Langston Middle School in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood.

Cote Brilliante Elementary in the Ville neighborhood is one of two schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams recommended close at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The parents, students and staff of at least two St. Louis city schools may soon find out whether this will be the last year their school will be open.

St. Louis Public School’s Special Administrative Board is meeting Tuesday evening to take action on school closures.

Tax credits | Flickr

St. Louis is backing charter school parents in a legal dispute over how money from a 1999 city sales tax is distributed.

St. Louis officials  argue that the money from the sales tax was designed to help all students attending public schools in the city, not just those in district schools.

The St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP, which filed the lawsuit, say the money should go only to the school district, not to charters, and they want to recover more than $50 million that has gone to the charters since 2006.

An "out of order" sign hangs from the pipes of a water fountain at Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Dec. 9, 2016 with the results of the most recent tests — St. Louis Public Schools officials are still working on replacing water pipes, fountains and sinks that tested positive for lead.

Most of the nearly 90 sources have passed most-recent testing, but three fountains and nine sinks have been abandoned. Another eight fountains failed the most recent lead tests, and officials are waiting for results on four other fountains.

LeDiva Pierce with her daughters Alfreida (left) and Unique. Pierce is one of two charter school parents seeking to intervene as plaintiffs in St. Louis Public School's dispute with the state over funding.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Two parents of children in charter schools in St. Louis are taking their fight to be involved in a school-funding lawsuit to a federal appeals court.

Earlier this year, a U.S. District Court judge rejected attempts by Ken Ross Jr. and LeDiva Pierce to intervene in a motion brought by the St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP. The court actions seeks to stop money from a 1999 sales tax from going to charter schools and want the charters to pay back $50 million in tax proceeds they have received over the past 10 years.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams watches as early results come in showing strong support for a proposition to increase school funding in April 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools is recommending that at least two schools in north St. Louis close at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

After having meetings at 10 schools that have low enrollment and shaky academic performance, Kelvin Adams told the district’s appointed board Monday night that Cote Brilliante Elementary, 2616 Cora Ave., in the Ville neighborhood, and Langston Middle School, 5511 Wabada Ave., in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood don’t have the area population and development they need to stay open.

school buses
Flickr

After area school superintendents voted Friday to phase out the current race-based student transfer program – and possibly replace it with a new one down the road – those who have been part of the program so far cited a lot of reasons it should continue.

Harlan Hodge, a city resident who graduated in 1992 from Parkway North High School, put his experience this way:

“The kids at our school, the teachers lovingly embraced us the same way they have everywhere else. It really became about excellence. I’m as committed to Parkway as I was 25 years ago when I started. I believe in the school district. I believe in teachers. I believe in our education. It was a great experience.”

KB35 | Flickr

If the voluntary student transfer program that has served more than 70,000 St. Louis area students over more than 30 years is going to continue beyond 2036, it probably will be based on a factor other than race.

At a meeting Friday, the board that oversees the program is expected to approve a final five-year extension that would begin phasing out the transfers in the 2023-24 school year. Students who begin kindergarten that year could remain through high school graduation.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon talks to students at Moline elementary school in Riverview Gardens Monday, Nov. 7, 2016.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 7 at 3:55 with Nixon comments: No Missouri school districts scored in the unaccredited range on this year’s annual report cards, but that doesn’t mean that the state’s two unaccredited districts – Normandy and Riverview Gardens – are automatically headed for an upgrade.

And among charters in St. Louis, one – Preclarus Mastery Academy – scored in the unaccredited range for the third straight year. Two others that scored in the same territory, with less than half of the possible points – Jamaa Learning Center and Better Learning Communities Academy – closed at the end of the last school year.

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

While state education officials try to work around obstacles that have blocked efforts to move control of the St. Louis Public Schools back to an elected board, talks on the issue have been suspended until January at the earliest.

And with school board elections set for April, the balloting could take on additional significance.

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

This a preview of an upcoming episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s We Live Here, a podcast that explores race, class, power and poverty in the St. Louis region and beyond. Listen to the full version here

Black students in Missouri and the rest of the country are far more likely to receive out of school suspensions. And this school year St. Louis Public Schools became one of the few districts in the nation to ban out-of-school suspensions for its youngest students. 

Officials say the move has pushed them to rethink student discipline. 

Darnetta Clinkscale, left, joins Rick Sullivan and Richard Gaines (right) on the SAB board for her first meeting Sept. 26, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

​Updated 9 p.m. Sept. 26 with comment from Clinkscale  Darnetta Clinkscale, a former member of the elected board for the St. Louis Public Schools, is now a member of the three-member appointed board that has run the district since 2007.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay on Monday named Clinkscale to the post on the Special Administrative Board. She replaces Melanie Adams,  who resigned because she has accepted a job in St. Paul, Minn. 

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