State Takes Over Troubled St. Louis School District

ST. LOUIS – In a 5-1 vote, the Missouri state school board decided to take control of the St. Louis school district and it’s problematic campuses.

The decision was delayed because the board’s meeting was temporarily adjourned due to student protestors who chanted “No Takeover.” Once reconvened, the final decision was reached. The transfer of power becomes official June 15 with the stripping of the district’s accreditation. A three-member panel will be put in place to take over the duties of the existing school board. The new panel will be comprised of one member appointed each by the governor, the mayor of St. Louis and the president of the city’s Board of Aldermen. The residing seven-member school board will remain intact but retain no official power or authority.

One student was handcuffed and subdued with pepper spray during the protest.

Problems with the 35,000-student school district are numerous, from nearly $25 million of cumulative debt reported in 2006 to a disappointing 55-percent graduation rate in the same year. The dropout rate also stands at nearly 19 percent with more than 60 percent of 10th graders scoring below average on standardized math tests.

While seven other school districts have been taken over by their respective states since 2004, St. Louis stands as the largest. The three-member panel is expected to lead the district for at least the next six years, though it could be extended indefinitely.

Students on course to graduate this year will still be rewarded with accredited diplomas, but future graduates have expressed concern over the district’s loss of accreditation. The loss of accreditation could have an adverse affect on student’s college admission and scholarship opportunities.

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