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Nixon meets with school leaders on efforts for failing schools

  

Saint Louis, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon met with the 26 St. Louis-area school districts that are members of the St. Louis Regional Collaborative for Educational Excellence today to discuss ongoing efforts to support failed local districts like Normandy and Riverview Gardens.

The collaborative effort was announced earlier this summer, when Nixon vetoed a bill crafted by state lawmakers for the second straight year aimed at streamlining and codifying the complex student transfer program in the region. For two years, students at certain unaccredited districts — in this case, Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts — have been eligible to transfer to better schools nearby, a system which critics have called a costly burden and a mere short-term fix.

Many of the 26 districts taking part in the collaboration are also districts receiving students from unaccredited schools. The schools have worked to agree on reasonable limits to tuition, sharing teachers and educational materials, and providing teacher training to struggling districts.

“Education leaders in this region have stepped up, in real and specific ways, and marshaled their collective resources to improve opportunities for students in struggling school districts,” Nixon said in a statement. “In doing so, they are sending a clear message that this is one region, where every child matters and where all students deserve an equal opportunity to succeed.”

Nixon’s office said every participating district had agreed to take up “one or more” of the following:

Providing teacher training and professional development programs;

  • Deploying specialists in reading and math instruction to help teachers improve student achievement;
  • Designing curricula that will improve academic performance;
  • Providing instructional coaches to assist with high school AP courses in American government, statistics, English and biology;
  • Reducing tuition for students transferring out of the Normandy Schools Collaborative and Riverview Gardens school districts; and
  • Reducing costs by using the combined purchasing power and existing contracts of the districts.

The group has also formed a steering committee which includes Normandy’s Dr. Charles Pearson; Riverview Gardens Superintendent Dr. Scott Spurgeon; Dr. Kelvin Adams, St. Louis Public Schools; Karen Hall, Maplewood-Richmond Heights; Dr. Donna Jahnke, Ladue; Dr. Chris Kilbride, Ritenour; Dr. Sarah Riss, Webster Groves; and Dr. Tom Williams, Kirkwood, was formed to coordinate the efforts of all participating schools.