St. Louis Public Schools

Kelvin Adams 2012
courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The St. Louis Public Schools are headed for financial problems, do not adequately address the difficulties of students who fall behind, need to monitor test results more closely to detect possible cheating and should seek bids more often for goods and services, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When an outside consulting firm takes a hard look at ways to improve the Kansas City schools, its report may not have the answers to achieving the same goal in St. Louis, but it could certainly be asking the right questions.

comedy_nose / Flickr

Updated 1:20 p.m.

The Missouri state auditor gave the St. Louis Public Schools a “fair” rating in an audit of the district released Wednesday.

Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican, said the district was not initially cooperative with his office.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams, who also attended Wednesday’s press conference, said the audit got off to a “rocky” start because the district did not initially believe Schweich had the authority to do the performance audit.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This time last year, the St. Louis Public Schools were pushing for an upgrade in their accreditation classification, making the argument that the latest state evaluation gave them enough points to climb out of unaccredited territory.

Chris Nicastro, who heads the department of elementary and secondary education, originally said the district had shown improvement, but not enough to win provisional accreditation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Let’s be very specific about last week’s breaking news in education: The state will be paying nearly $400,000 to a consultant to tell us why Kansas City, one of Missouri’s three unaccredited school districts, is failing. As in the other two unaccredited districts — Riverview Gardens and Normandy — Kansas City students are predominantly African American and live in communities that are economically disadvantaged. All three districts, as well as St. Louis (again) are having a hard time getting a sufficient number of kids to pass the state’s high-stakes tests — MAP and end-of-course exams — that Missouri children take every spring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If Missouri educators were to use the first year of a new evaluation plan to classify school districts, St. Louis Public Schools would slide back into unaccredited territory, joining Normandy and Riverview Gardens, and other local districts would be downgraded to provisionally accredited.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working for years to get authority to step in more quickly to help unaccredited school districts.

Now that a newly signed law gives it that power, the state board of education wants to make sure that it uses it in the right way.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Members of the Missouri state board of education voted unanimously Tuesday to grant provisional accreditation to the St. Louis Public Schools, accepting a recommendation from Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Rather than divert attention and money to vouchers and charter schools, the president of the American Federation of Teachers says the district-teacher collaboration in St. Louis should become a model to help strengthen public school districts nationwide.

Citing grants for innovation and programs that help new teachers and veterans alike, Randi Weingarten told a news conference at Gateway Elementary School Tuesday that the survival of public education is at a pivotal moment.

Erin Williams

In a press conference held at St. Louis City Hall today, Mayor Slay was joined by school and court officials to speak about the importance of regular school attendance before the first day on Monday.

Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams says that while attendance has increased, it is estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 students don’t attend on the first day of school.  

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: To avoid the challenges associated with the current school transfer law, and to give parents a better idea of how their children’s school is doing, the elected board of the St. Louis Public Schools wants the state to begin accrediting individual schools rather than entire school districts.

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

Updated 5:34 p.m. to include comments from Chris Tennill of  the School District of Clayton

The Missouri Department Of Elementary & Secondary Education has issued its own guidelines for the transfer process of students from unaccredited districts to those which are accredited.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

Updated 4:38 p.m. & 5:44 p.m.

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a state law that allows students to transfer from unaccredited districts to ones that are accredited.

(Provided/St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

Updated with receipt of statement from SLPS.

A math teacher at Soldan International Studies High School in St. Louis is facing 11 criminal counts for allegedly having sexual contact with a student at the school.

Thirty-two-year-old David Marler is being held on a $250,000 cash bond on felony statutory sodomy, child endangerment, and sexual contact with a student charges. Police are investigating the possibility that there were other victims, and are encouraging parents or students to call 314-444-5385.

(via Flickr/comedy_nose)

On Wednesday night the state-appointed Special Administrative Board approved some budget cutting measures meant to improve the St. Louis Public School District's long-term financial health.

The efforts of alumni and faculty, however, ultimately saved the popular Cleveland NJROTC High School from the chopping block.

Last month Superintendent Kelvin Adams said little could change his recommendation to close Cleveland NJROTC due to low enrollment.

(Courtesy: Saint Louis Urban Debate League)

Debate is an activity in which thousands of high school and college students participate throughout the country.

The academic activity takes many forms and styles though ‘policy debate’ is one of the most common.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

A push to save Cleveland NJROTC High School continued on Saturday.  

During a public forum at Vashon High School, students, parents and alumni gave their feedback on the proposed budget for St. Louis Public Schools.  Several speakers told Superintendent Kelvin Adams that his idea to close Cleveland NJROTC is a mistake.   

Jeanette Culpepper's grandson currently attends Cleveland NJROTC and she has four nieces who graduated from the military prep school.

She said the school’s high academic standards and strict code of conduct are of great benefit to many students.  

knittymarie / Flickr

Flat enrollment and the lingering recession may force St. Louis Public Schools to close four of its schools.

That’s according to a 2013-14 budget proposal presented to the Special Administrative Board Wednesday night by Superintendent Kelvin Adams.

Even though four schools could be closed, the public comment period at the board meeting was full of Cleveland Junior Naval Academy students like Erik Harrison.

In full uniform, Harrison and his classmates pleaded with the board to spare the military prep school.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with comments from Jeff Rainford.

St. Louis city firefighters who have served at least seven years with the department will be able to move outside the city boundaries.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that the Missouri Legislature was within its rights in 2010 to pass a law overriding local residency requirements for fire departments in cities where the school district is unaccredited or provisionally accredited.

(via Flickr/comedy_nose)

Lawsuits brought by families who want the St. Louis school district to pay to send their children to an accredited suburban school district are in question after the St. Louis district regained its accreditation last week.

Missouri law requires unaccredited districts to pay tuition and transportation costs to send students living within their boundaries to accredited districts in the same or an adjoining county.

Several families who were already sending their children to school in Clayton sued the St. Louis district after it lost its accreditation in 2007.

(Flickr/Cast a Line)

Suburban St. Louis districts will continue to accept black students who transfer from the St. Louis city district through a program that grew out of a desegregation case.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:57 p.m. with comments from DESE's Margie Vandeven; Peter Herschend, State Board of Education President; and Chris Nicastro, Mo. Education Commissioner.

St. Louis schools are no longer unaccredited, following a unanimous vote today by the State Board of Education. The struggling district, which has been under state control for five years, will now have provisional, but not full, accreditation.

knittymarie / Flickr

St. Louis public schools will find out tomorrow if they’ll regain at least provisional accreditation from the State Board of Education.

St. Louis schools lost their accreditation five years ago and were soon after placed under state control, but they have improved over the past two years.  In 2010 they only met 3 out of 14 performance standards, with six being the minimum require for provisional accreditation.  Last year they met the minimum six, and this year they’ve met seven performance standards.  State Board Member Peter Herschend (R) says, though, there’s no guarantee the vote will go St. Louis’s way.

(via St. Louis Public Schools)

On Tuesday the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will consider granting provisional accreditation to St. Louis Public Schools, and the religious group Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) plans to push state officials to move forward with re-instating local control over the district.

Sunday, the religious group held its annual public meeting and Barbara Paulus, who leads the Economic Task Force for MCU, said earning back accreditation is a key part of ensuring kids get the education they’re entitled to.

(via Flickr/cayoup)

On the heels of improving test scores and other accountability measures that were reported last month, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will decide whether to grant St. Louis Public Schools provisional accreditation on Oct. 16.  

Even though he is optimistic about the chances that the district will begin to earn back local control as soon as next month, Superintendent Kelvin Adams says that isn’t the only measure of success.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A collaborative effort among the administration, parents, and teachers of the St. Louis Public Schools toward regaining accreditation earned praise on Tuesday from the president of the a national teachers union.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, made St. Louis a stop on her national back-to-school tour. The St. Louis teachers are represented by an AFT local.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The state of Missouri and the city of St. Louis will go in front of the state Supreme Court on Thursday to argue over who can decide where city employees live.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

MAP scores released

The St. Louis school district could be a year away from regaining partial accreditation.  Missouri's Annual Performance Reports, or MAP scores, have been released today.  They show that St. Louis city schools have met seven standards, including one academic standard. 

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says they're looking for sustained improvement over time.

(via St. Louis Public Schools)

Updated 5:10 p.m. Aug. 13:

St. Louis Public Schools has released its attendance figures for the first day of school:

  • 20,283 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade attended classes today
  • According to SLPS, the number shows a 10.25 percent increase over the previous year’s first day attendance of 18,397

Three new schools opened to address the closing of six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis. The new schools had the following first-day attendance numbers:

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Ill. Gov. calls for stricter gun laws

Days after the Colorado theater shooting, Governor Pat Quinn is calling for stricter gun laws in Illinois. Gun-rights advocates have long argued that public safety would be improved if people were allowed to carry concealed firearms. Illinois is the only state without any form of concealed carry for the general public. And Quinn says he'd oppose any attempt to permit concealed carry.

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