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Missouri restores local control of St. Louis district

The district has been governed by a three-member special administrative board since 2007 because of financial and academic deficiencies.

The Missouri Board of Education has voted to return control of the St. Louis school district to a locally elected board.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports state board voted unanimously to approve the transition recommended by Margie Vandeven, state commissioner of education.

The district has been governed by a three-member special administrative board since 2007, when the district lost accreditation after poor financial and academic performance and infighting among elected board members.

The district regained full accreditation in 2017 after improvements to graduation rates and finances, among other measures.

Vandeven says the special administrative board has achieved its goals of regaining state accreditation, improving the district’s finances and maintaining stable leadership under Superintendent Kelvin Adams, who was hired in 2008.

The appointed board will be disbanded as of July 1, and the seven-member elected school board will take over.

Since the appointed board took control in 2007, the district has improved in several areas of student performance. The high school graduation rate has risen to 78 percent from 56 percent. Out-of-school suspensions have dropped to 473 from 1,720. Preschool attendance has nearly doubled to 2,100 students.

But during the same period, enrollment in the district fell from 33,000 students to fewer than 21,000.

Average test scores in the district remain below state average. Fewer than 20 percent of third-graders are proficient in English, compared with the Missouri average of 49 percent, and 12 percent of seventh-graders are proficient in math, compared with 38 percent statewide.

The elected board has continued to meet during the years of state oversight.

Since fall, elected board members have received leadership training over eight weekends, and the newly elected members also will get intensive training before the next school year through the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

State board member Peter Herschend advised the elected board to retain Adams as superintendent. Adams has agreed to extend his contract to 2022.

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