St. Louis Public Schools

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.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Three school districts that have been crowing about their latest state report card after years of struggle could find out soon whether they will be rewarded with an upgrade in their accreditation status.

For schools in Jennings and St. Louis, the change would be from provisional accreditation to full accreditation. For Riverview Gardens, which is now one of two unaccredited districts in Missouri, a move up to provisional accreditation could get the district out from under the financial burden of student transfers now in its third year.

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.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Struggling school districts in the St. Louis area got some welcome good news with this year’s annual report card from the state.

Riverview Gardens, Jennings and St. Louis Public Schools all posted scores that would put them into the fully accredited range, with more than 70 percent of the 140 points possible on the Annual Performance Report (APR).

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

Test results for Missouri schools released Monday show that Normandy and Riverview Gardens, the only unaccredited districts in the state, continue to struggle.

State education officials stress that because the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests given in the spring were based on new standards, the results cannot be compared with results from previous years.

St. Louis Public Schools

You can’t teach kids if they’re not in class. 

With more than 27,000 students heading back to St. Louis Public Schools next week, as well as many of the city's charter and private schools starting classes, officials are reinforcing that point. Because, they say, lost learning time only leads to lost potential.     

A classroom inside of Eliiot Elementary. The sub-ceiling is down, paint is stripped off the walls, all the copper is out of the building and the alarm system’s been ripped out.
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Virginia Savage can remember being a nervous fourth grader walking into Marshall Elementary for the first time in the Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis.    

“It was a great school to me,” Savage said. “And when it shut down, I was hurt.”

Left vacant for six years, the building now has vines crawling into the broken windows that fill Marshall's once stately facade. Savage lives nearby and sees something much worse than a crumbling building.     

“Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That’s what I see,” Savage said.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

High school students with Metropolitan Congregations United are calling for a reduction in out-of-school suspensions in area schools. They presented data and recommendations for change Saturday to a group of about 40 educators and community members.

The group, called Students 4 Change, highlighted  a recent UCLA report, which found that Missouri suspends more African-American grade school students than any other state in the country.  Three St. Louis area schools in particular were singled out in the report: Normandy, Riverview Gardens and St. Louis Public Schools.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Voters in the Webster Groves School District said a resounding no Tuesday to two proposals — a bond issue and a tax increase — that will mean layoffs of teachers and cancellation of plans to expand and improve district facilities.

While those proposals were soundly defeated, voters in Rockwood and Ferguson-Florissant put past controversies behind them and gave solid majorities to bond issues designed to improve facilities in both of those districts.

St. Louis Public Schools


(Updated at 9 p.m., 3/10/15)

St. Louis Public Schools is reconsidering its discipline policy following a report from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA that found the district suspended roughly 29 percent of African-American grade school students at least once during the 2011-12 school year.


Missouri suspends African-American grade school students at a higher rate than any other state in the country.  This was a key finding in a national report issued last week by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA.  But troubled districts have been making some progress.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Schools' plan to turn around its lowest performing schools is starting to take root, but plenty of work remains. That was the message delivered to the district’s Special Administrative Board (SAB) by Superintendent Kelvin Adams on Wednesday evening.

“I’d say it’s about a seven or eight out of 10,” Adams said, when asked how schools are progressing. “Right now it’s preliminary.  We’re only about five months into this.”

Eighth-grade communications arts teacher, Kate Berger, leads students through a classroom exercise at South City Preparatory
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio


(Updated Feb. 18 with details on South City Prep's new location and the closing of Construction Careers Center High School.)

A stream of eighth graders flowed into Kate Berger’s classroom at South City Preparatory Academy.  College and university banners line classroom walls and hang from ceilings.           

“Find yourself,” the language arts teacher told students.  “Go to where you need to be.”

Courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

Members of the Special Administrative Board (SAB) for St. Louis Public Schools — which has overseen the district since it lost state accreditation in 2007 — are meeting to develop a plan for returning authority over the district to the disempowered, elected board.  

The first meeting is being held this evening and will be a closed session to discuss legal and legislative issues related to transitioning authority.

John Walker / Flickr

A new effort is underway to fortify the high school to college pipeline for students in St. Louis Public Schools.  

The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, the fundraising partner for the district, wants to raise $2 million to hire eight counselors over the next three years to focus on college readiness. These counselors would serve students at all 15 of the district’s high schools. The highly regarded Metro Academic and Classical High School already has a counselor specifically focused on college readiness.   

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

A program designed to push poor and minority students toward high school graduation and college and career readiness will expand in the St. Louis Public Schools.

Fueled by a $300,000 grant from AT&T, the Advancement Via Individual Determination  (AVID) program will go from serving around 300 students to 3,400 students at Cleveland Jr. Naval Academy, Gateway STEM High School, Roosevelt High School, Soldan International Studies High School, Sumner High School and Vashon High School. 

Vashon High School freshman Rochelle Mason joined other students in a walk-out over substitute teachers and quality resources.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

About 100 students from St. Louis' Vashon High School walked out of classes Friday morning to demand more full-time teachers and better textbooks.

The students also were upset about certain school policies and the hiring of a new principal.

Vashon has been under scrutiny after it earned only 28 percent of available points on the most recent report card from the state.

Substitute teachers 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Angelee and Paul Brockmeyer have a soft spot for urban living and fixer-uppers.  

The couple spent five years rehabbing an old home in Chicago.  So, when they decided to pack up and come to St. Louis to be closer to family, Paul spent his weekends scouring the city's nooks and crannies for their next project. 

What they found was a sprawling Victorian in Compton Heights in need of elbow grease and updates.  

“It’s kind of easy to get sold on the whole package when you have this great neighborhood and you really love your house,” Angelee said. 

(via St. Louis Public Schools)

More than 780 kindergarten through eighth-grade pupils in St. Louis Public Schools who have fallen behind in reading are being held back this school year. That’s double the number of pupils retained last fall, when 372 students did not move on to the next grade.     

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Take a look at a statewide map showing how districts performance has changed between the past two school years, as well as five takeaways from the report cards.

While St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens have made solid gains in their push toward accreditation, Normandy finds itself in a deeper hole, earning just 7.1 percent of the possible points in Missouri’s latest list of school report cards released Friday.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

With just over a week before the first day of classes for St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS), the district partnered with the Urban League to host an annual back to school fair Saturday.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the Back to School and Community Empowerment Festival, lining up outside St. Louis University's Chaifetz Arena to get free school supplies and find out about area resources.

Urban League President and CEO Michael McMillan said the purpose of the fair is to make sure students—and their families—are ready for the school year.

File photo

With two weeks to go until teachers report for the beginning of the new school year, the Normandy Schools Collaborative said Monday it has hired 80 percent of the staff it needs, from custodians to principals.

But just to make sure it hasn’t overlooked any good teachers who are still looking for employment, the district said it will be holding a job fair two days later this week.

St. Louis Public Schools

While plenty of work is left to be done, St. Louis Public Schools has established a foothold in its effort to raise academic performance and reverse decades of sagging enrollment. 

That's the big takeaway from a report by the Chicago based IFF, a nonprofit that released a similar study in 2009 when city leaders were considering the best locations for a wave of charter schools.