St. Louis Public Schools | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Schools

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.

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.

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

Within five years of being in a St. Louis Public Schools classroom, nearly half of teachers leave the district.

Now SLPS is considering adopting the St. Louis Teacher Residency Program in an effort to retain new teachers. Recruits would spend a full school year embedded in a classroom shadowing an experienced teacher while also earning their teaching certificate.

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

State authority of the St. Louis Public School district has accomplished its job and it’s time for a return to local control, according to the district’s appointed board. But it’s not clear when that could happen.

In a unanimous vote Thursday evening, the three-person Special Administrative Board approved a motion to return authority of the district to the St. Louis Board of Education, which is elected but powerless, after a decade of state control.

Addie Bond, a St. Louis parent, Special Administrative Board member Richard Gaines and legal counsel Jonathan Dalton listen to a presentation during a governance task force meeting Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A task force on the future governance of St. Louis’ public schools says control of the district should eventually return to local, democratic oversight, but members struggled to agree on much else.

In a meeting that began at noon and lasted well into Wednesday evening, a committee assigned with determining St. Louis Public Schools’ future recommended the restoration of an elected school board, but with the caveat that in seven years voters would get to choose whether to keep that elected board.

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.

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.

New St. Louis magnet school shows early promise

May 21, 2017
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.

2 St. Louis-area schools earn high marks for college readiness

Apr 25, 2017
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.
File | 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.

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