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Mo. State Ed. Board Hears Accreditation Plea From KC; Other Education Requests

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

It was a busy day for the Missouri State Board of Education.

First, the Board heard from Kansas City Public Schools, which is seeking to regain provisional accreditation, citing "rapid improvement."

Superintendent R. Stephen Green presented his argument Tuesday, during which he highlighted Kansas City's finances and improvement on school performance reports.  He also told the Board that failing to regain provisional accreditation would eventually make them subject to the student transfer law that has been implemented in the St. Louis suburbs of Normandy and Riverview Gardens.  Green says that law has the potential to cripple the progress Kansas City schools have made over the past two years.

"We estimate that would probably amount to about 3,000 (or) 4,000 thousand students leaving the district," Green said.  "That translates into about $150 million of a $238 million budget -- that impact would be devastating."

Based on the latest APR scores using a new grading scale (MSIP 5), Kansas City schools scored at 60 percent, which is within provisional accreditation range.  But State Board members and DESE Commissioner Chris Nicastro have said they want to wait 2-3 years under the new scale before recommending changes to any school district's accreditation status.  State Board President Peter Herschend says a decision on Kansas City's status would likely be made in either October or November.

Full K-12 funding formula request

Also at Tueday's meeting, the State Board formally requested that Missouri's K-12 funding formula be fully funded for the 2014-15 school year.  State Board officials have requested full funding every year for the past few years as a formality, knowing that they would probably not get it.  Nicastro says a fully-funded formula would help students gain the knowledge they need for college and careers later in life.

The current state budget signed this year by Governor Jay Nixon (D) contained an additional $66 million for public schools, which still fell short of full funding.  The State Education Board, meanwhile, is also asking for an additional $18.5 million to assess student performance.

Confluence Academies

Herschend, meanwhile, had scathing words today for a group of St. Louis-based charter schools.  Confluence Academies were placed on academic probation last year by Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, which is sponsoring Confluence's charter.  Herschend compared the situation at Confluence to a house being on fire for 11 years.

"The kids can't read (and) they can't do math," Herschend said.  "(As for their) graduation rates…they're going out into the world, and you know what they're gonna do?  They're going to drive trash trucks, (that's) as high as they're gonna attain."

Harvest Collier is Missouri S&T’s charter school liaison.  He says they have an "all hands on deck" approach to addressing the problems at Confluence Academies.  Their charter was renewed last year for a 5-year period by the State Board of Education.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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