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Vol. 44, No. 82

November 17, 2010

St. Louis Transitional School District Extended Three Years

In a strong statement of support for St. Louis Public Schools, the State Board of Education adopted a resolution Tuesday, Nov. 16, authorizing the continuance of the Transitional School District through June 30, 2014.

Board members said consistent leadership is needed while the school district works toward regaining financial stability and meeting educational standards under the Missouri School Improvement Program.

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro recommended the transitional district remain in place based, in part, upon the findings of the Special Advisory Committee on the St. Louis Public Schools, which completed its work last month. Other key factors included improving student achievement data and staff recommendations. St. Louis Public Schools has been unaccredited since June 15, 2007.

“It will take time, but the district appears to be on the right track,” Nicastro said. “The students and schools are making progress, and we believe the education culture is changing for the better.”

While the transitional district does not expire until June 30, 2011, state education leaders took early action to allow the school district and community to keep momentum and to allow timely decisions by authorities for naming individuals to the three-member board when terms come up for renewal.

A state law special to St. Louis Public Schools gives the task of appointing special administrative board members to the Governor, the Mayor of St. Louis and the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Each official names one member.

To communicate the need for consistent leadership, the State Board of Education also passed a motion to recommend the appointing authorities retain the current individuals on the special administrative board. That board has been led since 2007 by Richard Sullivan, a prominent St. Louis businessman.

Meanwhile, the elected local school board continues to meet and function without operational authority, Nicastro said. She met with board members last week and praised its dedication to remaining engaged and preparing itself for future governance, although it is unknown when that transition will occur.

“We are pleased with the superintendent, the special administrative board, and the efforts of the elected school board,” Nicastro said. “It will take everyone working together and pulling in the same direction to find firm footing on the path to regaining accreditation.”