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Public Schools

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Magnet, charter, neighborhood, choice: The different types of schools in urban public education can be a lot to decipher, even a few decades into the so-called “school choice” era.

A website that helps St. Louis parents pilot it all has relaunched with updated data and a new name. 

University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education's James Shuls (at left), SLPS Superintendent Kelvin Adams (at center) and Missouri NEA Legislative Director Otto Fajen discussed challenges surrounding teacher compensation.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this week, the local union representing educators who serve in St. Louis Public Schools began arbitration relating to its claims about pay discrepancy within the district.

American Federation of Teachers Local 420 claims many of its members are being paid less than colleagues with the same credentials and are seeking $10 million worth of salary increases and back pay for nearly 1,000 teachers and support staff.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led a conversation in light of that news, touching on challenges surrounding teacher compensation as well as other matters. Joining the discussion were SLPS Superintendent Kelvin Adams, Missouri NEA Legislative Director Otto Fajen and the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education’s James Shuls

St. Louis Public Schools

One of the bigger obstacles to passing this year’s state budget has been resolved.

Missouri’s public school system is set to get a $98 million boost in next year’s state budget, which was what House leaders wanted, under an agreement reached Monday.

School Illustration
File | Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in Metro East K-12 school districts say they have teacher shortages in some subject areas. But new teacher licensing rules that went into effect July 1 may help.

Kids sitting on the floor in a classroom
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Illinois passed a budget Thursday for the first time since 2015, and is giving more money to education than in previous spending plans.

But several years of prorated and delayed state aid have forced K-12 school districts in St. Clair and Madison counties to cut staff, increase class sizes, take on debt and deplete cash reserves. And, like the state’s finances, it’s going to take time for districts to bounce back.

Metro East schools sue Illinois over inadequate funding

Apr 5, 2017
Flickr | alkruse24

Hours after measures to increase the sales tax for schools failed in both Madison and St. Clair counties, two school districts from each county sued the state.

Bethalto, Cahokia, Grant and Wood River-Hartford schools joined more than a dozen other southern Illinois districts in the suit. They want the state to provide enough funding so districts can meet the state's new learning standards.

Elijah Haahr
Campaign site

A newly signed law designed to protect religious expression in Missouri’s public schools reinforces a constitutional amendment passed two years ago, but some say that it could lead to fewer opportunities for students to express their religious views.

The law, HB1303, was signed last week by Gov. Jay Nixon. Dubbed the “Missouri Student Religious Liberties Act,” it says that:

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A study released Thursday by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry states that Missouri is "falling behind" when it comes to providing digital learning for K-12 students. 

The chamber commissioned the study, which was conducted by the Colorado-based Evergreen Education Group.  Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan says although online learning options are available in the Show-Me State, most require tuition, while those that don’t are limited geographically.

Commentary: Disparity Among School Districts

Oct 14, 2013

In Missouri, as in most states, public schools are administered by local school boards.  The boundaries of school districts are drawn in accordance with state law. Schools are funded primarily through local property taxes. Districts with higher per capita incomes tend to have better schools.  The districts most in danger of losing their accreditation tend to be those with lower per capita incomes.

(Courtesy of D.J. Wilson)

Cost is factor no matter what you are buying – a six-pack of beer, a pair of jeans, a house, or for a state government, a public education for school-age children.

 Much has been said about the cost of the region’s current inter-district student transfer program. Much of what has been said about that cost has been incomplete, or ill informed.  

The one price tag that’s been floated is $35 million. Let’s break that down. 

Editor's Weekly: Time to get down to business

Sep 6, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 6, 2013 - Dear Beaconites -- As a cool breeze chased away the heat, St. Louisans marked the turning of the seasons in two ways this week. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, opened 10 days of reflection and repentence for some. Labor Day brought the end of summer for all.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 24, 2012 - As they do in most years, legislators in Jefferson City began their 2012 session with a long list of education issues on the agenda: fixing the foundation formula, solving the Turner transfer dilemma, expanding charter schools, changing teacher tenure rules, letting state officials intervene more quickly in Kansas City schools and so on.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

With less than two months left in this year’s legislative session, House Republicans still haven’t scheduled a wide-ranging public school bill for debate.  It would create tax credit scholarships that would pay for students to transfer from unaccredited schools to adjacent better-performing schools, and expand charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City. 

Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones admits there are wide differences of opinion on the bill, even among Republicans.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In remarks that have since gone viral, retired businessman Rex Sinquefield referenced a column in a central Missouri newspaper that seemed to suggest that the Ku Klux Klan created public education to harm black children.

But the author of that column said the piece was meant to be satire and dark humor to make a broader point about the need for school vouchers and was not meant to be taken literally.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield is personally seeking to make the case that eliminating Missouri's income tax, and replacing it with a sales tax, would be an economic boon for the Show Me State.

But Sinquefield, who is bankrolling an initiative-petition drive on the subject, acknowledged Thursday that getting Missourians to go along with such a drastic change in their state's taxation system may take several years and perhaps several elections.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 23, 2011 - A lot of students in the St. Louis area may be learning a basic arithmetic lesson the next few months:

Tight education budgets = less summer school

Mo. Senate passes budget plans impacting funding to colleges, public schools

Apr 20, 2011
(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The Missouri Senate has passed a funding plan for public schools as it begins debate on a $23 billion proposed budget.

  • A Senate budget bill approved Wednesday would provide schools $3 billion in basic aid next year - the same amount as this year but an estimated $179 million less than called for under the school funding formula.

Legislators and Gov. Jay Nixon say the state cannot afford to pay schools the full amount they are due.

Good morning! Here are a few of today's starting headlines:

  • Missouri lawmakers are preparing to start redrawing the state's congressional districts. Officials said Monday they expect to get more detailed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau this week. Missouri is losing one of its nine congressional districts, based on the statewide population figures released earlier. The new details of where people are living will hep the Legislature as it draws the eight new districts. The chairmen of the House and Senate  redistricting committees are planning to hold public hearings in several places around Missouri. They hope to complete the hearings in the next couple of weeks and will begin developing new congressional maps after that.
  • The Missouri House is to begin debate soon on a plan to use $189 million of additional federal stimulus money for public schools. The House plan would use some of that money to offset shortfalls in casino tax revenues that were to go to schools. But most of the additional federal money would be used to offset state revenues already budgeted for schools this year  - allowing the state money to be saved and distributed to schools next year. House Majority Leader Tim Jones said the chamber could debate the legislation as soon as Tuesday. The House plan would maintain a more steady funding stream for schools than one originally proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon. His plan would have boosted school funding this year and cut it next year.
  • According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Humane Society of Missouri has received custody of 74 dogs from a licensed breeder after investigators found the dogs malnourished and living in their own waste. State investigators found the Collies and Bichon Frises living in crates in a double-wide trailer on the breeder's Stone County property in southwest Missouri. One dog had to euthanized. The Post-Dispatch reports that examinations found several of the dogs suffered from dehydration, malnutrition, ear and respiratory infections, as well as internal parasites.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2011 - What comes to mind when you hear the word "cartel"?

You may think first of oil barons or drug lords, but if you had been part of the audience at a screening of a documentary at the Tivoli Thursday night, a new image would be added: public school classrooms.

Commentary: 'Superman' runs a con

Nov 17, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 17, 2010 - I went to see the movie "Waiting for Superman" expecting to be either inspired or outraged. Instead, I was merely annoyed - irritated by simple-minded assertions and gross misstatements of facts - until it hit me: Director Davis Guggenheim must be running a con.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 28, 2010 - The Piasa bird is pretty fierce, but this year it has met its match -- the Illinois school budget monster from Springfield.

As the Legislature wrestles to tame a spending plan that has Illinois laying out $13 billion more than it is taking in, school districts are trying to cope with big budget holes where state payments should be. Layoff notices are increasingly common, and programs that aren't mandated by the state, including sports, art, music and special education, are being trimmed back or cut altogether.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 20, 2009 - The French brought the first Africans to the Upper Louisiana territory in the 18th century to work in lead mines and later to provide labor in the growing settlement of St. Louis.

Through an African-French connection of cultural enrichment and intermarriage, a socially elite mixed-race group emerged. It was the French who first gave the heirs of transplanted Africans their freedom. Evidence of this inter-racial aristocracy can be found still in St. Louis street names such as Rutger (Pelagie Rutgers) and Clamorgan (Jacques Clamorgan) and Labadie (Antoine Labadie).