St. Louis Public Schools

Melanie Adams
Missouri History Museum

Updated at 4:45 p.m. with comments from Adams: Melanie Adams, one of the three original members of the Special Administrative Board that has run the St. Louis Public Schools since 2007, is leaving her job at the Missouri History Museum and her spot on the SAB.

Her successor on the board will be named by Mayor Francis Slay; his spokeswoman, Maggie Crane, said the search process is underway and will be completed as soon as possible.

Biology teacher LaJuana Stidmon examins at microscope she received as a gift at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis earlier this month on Aug. 11, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Comparatively low pay. Long hours. High — and often changing — expectations. A sometimes reluctant audience. Two months of vacation isn’t a big enough perk to lure anyone into the teaching profession for long. So what inspires St. Louis teachers to return each year?

With most St. Louis area schools now back in session, St. Louis Public Radio asked local teachers what keeps them coming back, what are their biggest challenges and what advice they have for parents.

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

Updated 8:50 p.m. Aug. 16, with results of an attempted meeting - A meeting to discuss moving the St. Louis Public Schools back under the control of an elected board was adjourned just five minutes after it started Tuesday evening because one member of the elected board who was not supposed to be there refused to leave.

The dispute could scuttle any effort to have the elected board replace the appointed Special Administrative Board that has run the district since 2007.

SLPS science teachers Ninfa Matiase, LaJuana Stidmon and Jeremy Resmann practice an experiment Aug. 3, 2016 during training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Two weeks before the new school year, St. Louis Public School teachers Ninfa Matiase, LaJuana Stidmon and Jeremy Resmann cut red agar into squares before dropping them into vinegar. It’s an experiment to test how quickly the cubes absorb the vinegar — one of several lesson plans the teachers have learned over the past two weeks during training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative.

Stidmon, a science teacher at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, says the training has given her a framework to focus her AP biology class.

Jacara Sproaps became principal of Dunbar Elementary School in July 2013.
Provided | St. Louis Public Schools

Updated July 15 with suspect’s name, charges — St. Louis Public Schools has lost a second educator to violence in less than a year. Dunbar Elementary School Principal Jacara Sproaps was killed Wednesday night in south St. Louis.

Police said Thursday Sproaps, 38, was shot and killed outside her home in the Gravois Park neighborhood by a man angry with her over their past relationship.

Her boyfriend, Maurice Partlow, was also killed, and her 18-year-old son is in critical but stable condition at an area hospital.One of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers who responded to the scene was grazed in the shin by a bullet.

comedy nose | Flickr

Eligibility requirements and classes geared for special interests and abilities apparently are not enough of an attraction for some parents with other options at their disposal when faced with St. Louis Public Schools’ overall tarnished reputation.

The district has more than 1,400 open slots for students to enroll in its choice and magnet high schools for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

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

Updated at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday with comments after the meeting - Nine years after a three-member appointed board took over a dysfunctional, poorly performing St. Louis Public Schools system, talks have begun on how an elected board can regain authority over a calmer, much-improved district.

Three members of the current elected board, along with two members of the state school board and the president of the appointed Special Administrative Board, gathered at the district’s downtown headquarters Tuesday evening.

Rick Sullivan (left), president of the city schools' Special Administrative Board, and Superintendent Kelvin Adams attend the campaign kickoff for Proposition 1
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis School Superintendent Kelvin Adams has signed a contract to stay on the job for another three years.

The new contract calls for his base salary to remain at $225,000 a year – the same salary he has had since he became head of the school district in 2008. But his automobile allowance rises to $800 a month from the $300 a month payment included in the old contract that expired last week. The $800 figure had been part of earlier contracts that Adams signed with the district.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams watches as early results come in showing strong support for Proposition 1.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated June 16, 2016 with more information from the Education Department — It appears St. Louis Public Schools will face no immediate financial consequences for failing to submit its 2013-2014 civil rights data to the U.S. Department of Education in time for it to be included in a national civil rights survey. But that could change if the school district doesn’t comply with future requirements from the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.

school buses
Flickr

The end isn’t near for the area’s long-running school desegregation program, but it’s coming.

Area school superintendents in charge of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. , which has run the program since a 1999 settlement established new rules the St. Louis-St. Louis County student transfers, are weighing one final five-year extension to the plan, taking it through the 2023-24 school year. They met Thursday to discuss the plan, with a final vote expected later this year.

St. Louis Public Schools

In 2007, the St. Louis Public Schools were placed under the control of a three-member appointed board. Its assignment was to fix problems in finance, governance and academic achievement.

The district has made progress in all three areas. A deficit became a surplus, infighting among board members has turned into civility, if not always unanimity, and student test scores have made steady gains. On its most recent state report card, the district, which was once unaccredited, scored solidly in the range for full accreditation.

Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

Summer school starts Monday for two of the three school districts in the region working to regain full accreditation from the state: provisionally accredited St. Louis Public Schools and unaccredited Riverview Gardens.

Normandy is finishing up its extended school year and starts summer school June 13.

St. Louis Public Schools

Updated at 12:50 p.m. June 1 with response from St. Louis Public Schools: Two parents who say their children have thrived in charter schools after struggling in St. Louis Public Schools want to have their voices heard in a lawsuit that could force charters in the city to lose tens of millions of dollars.

The parents filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking to intervene in the lawsuit filed in April by the city public schools against the way proceeds from a 1999 city sales tax for education has been distributed by the state.

St. Louis Public Schools

After a lively discussion, the Missouri state school board agreed Tuesday to convene a meeting that could lead to the St. Louis Public Schools returning to the control of an elected school board.

Since 2007, the city schools have been under the authority of a three-member appointed Special Administrative Board. Since the schools scored solidly in the full accreditation range on their most recent state report card, talk has increased about when the switch back to the elected board could occur.

Tax credits | Flickr

Two days before St. Louis voters would decide the fate of a small sales tax increase to pay for school desegregation in 1999, the woman who started the effort to get  better schools for black students asked city voters to take a “leap of faith” and back the tax.

“Without a source for funding,” Minnie Liddell wrote in a letter to the Post-Dispatch with her attorney, William Douthit, “the agreement becomes an empty set of promises, unrealized goals and positive educational outcomes that might have been.”

The tax hike, two-thirds of a penny, won big. Now it’s back in the public eye, in a dispute over who should benefit from its proceeds.

Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, Kelvin Adams, tells the district’s Special Administrative Board (SAB) that the district should renovate and keep open Shenandoah and Mann Elementary School.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Administrators will no longer be able to suspend students in pre-kindergarten through second grade who attend St. Louis Public Schools starting next fall.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams on Tuesday outlined several changes to the district’s student code of conduct during a Special Administrative Board meeting.

The most significant change eliminated out-of-school suspensions for the district’s youngest students.

State board President Charlie Shields and education Commissioner Margie Vandeven listen to Tuesday's discussion
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After more than two years of sometimes contentious debate by lawmakers and educators, new Missouri learning standards won unanimous approval Tuesday from the state board of education.

Meeting in Jefferson City, board members stressed that the new standards — which replace Common Core standards — spell out what Missouri students should know in English, math, social studies and science at various grade levels. But local districts retain the authority and the responsibility to determine how those subjects will be taught.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

When Nate Marschalk, the executive director of the local education innovation non-profit The Disruption Department, heard of the new Education Innovation Fellowship program being piloted by St. Louis’ Venture Café and St. Louis Public Schools, he was immediately against the idea.

This year, the paid fellowship will pair 15 St. Louis Public Schools teachers with startups and innovative companies in the hope of bridging the gap between education and industry.

Marschalk worried about the fellowship’s end goal.

Charlene Jones, a longtime political and education strategist who managed the Prop 1 campaign, speaks to a cheerful crowd at St. Louis Public Schools' downtown headquarters after watching election results come in.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters easily reaffirmed the city's earnings tax, a solid victory for city leaders and a stinging defeat for retired financier Rex Sinquefield.

And city residents also approved several other propositions, including a $25 million bond issue and a property tax increase for St. Louis Public Schools.

Staff, Flickr and Bill Greenblatt

Over the past 10 days, St. Louis Public Radio has presented articles on some of the issues before area voters this week. Most of the municipal elections were not reviewed. But we did look at county- and city-wide propositions, as well as tax issues within the city, some school districts and the municipal election in Ferguson.

Aimee Clay of Sumner High School
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Aimee Clay, a member of the Sumner High School ROTC Drill Team, began playing the national anthem on her violin at the start of the campaign kickoff for the St. Louis Public Schools 75-cent hike earlier this month.

Suddenly, clearly upset by an errant note, she stopped.

Campaign chairman Richard Gaines stepped up to put his arm around her shoulder. The crowd applauded encouragingly. Aimee regained her composure, started over and played the majestic tune flawlessly to the end.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday, the Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis Public Schools launched its first tax campaign in 25 years, seeking to approve a $0.75 tax levy in the city of St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams, Ph.D., said the money raised by this tax level, around $26 million, would go to critical efforts such as supporting early childhood education, alternative education and competitive wages for employees in public and charter schools in the city.

Rick Sullivan, left, head of the Special Administrative Board, and Superintendent Kelvin Adams talk with members of the elected school board
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 9:25 p.m. Tuesday with results of meeting: If the discussion Tuesday night between members of the elected board of the St. Louis Public Schools and the district’s superintendent and head of the appointed board is any guide, the upcoming campaign for a 75-cent tax increase will focus on a few key points:

Ashland Elementary School Principal, Lisa Brown, helps students work through a classroom assignment using iPads.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Board of Education is extending the governance period for the St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board for three more years. But it also asked its staff to present a transition plan at the April meeting.

“A review of the district performance shows steady increase in student performance on the MAP (test) since 2006," said Margie Vandeven, Missouri commissioner of education. "Although, there is still a long way to go as a whole for the students of this district."

State school board President Charlie Shields and education Commissioner Margie Vandeven listen to Tuesday's discussion.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of progress made by schools in St. Louis and Riverview Gardens, state education officials want appointed boards to continue in both districts for another three years.

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

Updated at 7:55 p.m. Monday with Adams not getting L.A. job: St. Louis schools will get another hearing by the state school board Tuesday on their request for an upgrade to full accreditation, while board members will also discuss a framework that could lift Riverview Gardens up to provisional accreditation.

Kelvin Adams 2012
courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

Kelvin Adams, who has been superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools since 2008, has surfaced as a candidate for the top school job in Los Angeles.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday that a five-hour meeting to choose a new superintendent Tuesday ended with no consensus. But, it added, “sources have said that the shortlist has included LA Chief Deputy Superintendent Michelle King and St. Louis Superintendent Kelvin Adams.”

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

St. Louis Public School teachers should be getting a little extra money just in time for the holidays.  But their long-term salary trajectory remains unknown.

American Federation of Teachers Local 420 members voted Thursday night to accept the district’s latest offer: a one-time lump sum in next Friday’s paychecks and an across-the-board two percent raise next school year. Teachers will receive an extra $1,400 next Friday; aides and clerical staff will receive $1,100.

Richard Reilly

If you took a drive this fall in Old North, along Delmar near Union, or in Dutchtown near Virginia and Liberty streets, you’ve probably seen vast fields of sunflowers waving at you as you pass by. Who is behind these projects to brighten up vacant lots across St. Louis?

Jennings Schools
Dale SInger | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:50 p.m.: JEFFERSON CITY – The Jennings School District’s steady improvement in recent years was rewarded Tuesday when the state board of education granted it full accreditation. But requests for upgrades by the St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens were put on hold.

Pages