Financial And Political Problems Plague The Troubled St. Louis Schools

Financial And Political Problems Plague The Troubled St. Louis Schools

The 2018-2018 school year for the St Louis schools brings with it​ a​ financial deficit and accreditation problems carried over from the previous board majority. Additionally, superintendent Creg Williams’ proposed budget was voted down on June 13, so currently there is​ no budget for the upcoming school year.

Financial Deficit

The current financial deficit was caused by the state, when it​ refused to​ honor its contract with the St Louis schools under the desegregation agreement of​ 1999. Abruptly during the 2018-2018 school year, the state cut off the funding and flatly refused to​ honor the agreement to​ pay the required funding — and has not paid a​ cent since.

The St Louis schools sued the state and won the lawsuit in​ circuit court. The state appealed the decision and has been dragging out the process ever since, delaying any decision on the appeal. The total amount in​ arrears that the state owes the St Louis schools is​ more than $120 million. This is​ the sole cause of​ the deficit for the upcoming school year.

Politics within the St Louis Schools

Adding to​ the financial troubles are the political problems that began in​ 2018, when board control of​ the St Louis schools was taken over by members loyal to​ Mayor Francis Slay. Voter support that was previously enjoyed by the St Louis schools was almost immediately lost.

There was nearly three years of​ disastrous performance in​ the St Louis schools. This majority essentially gave control of​ the St Louis schools to​ the New York management, consulting firm they hired, which resulted in​ the following:

• There were three different superintendents within just one budget year;
• They closed 16 schools without regard to​ educational or​ community considerations, basing their decisions solely upon the recommendations of​ a​ Houston subcontractor; and
• In the first two years, the learning environment deteriorated to​ the point of​ the whole system being exposed to​ losing accreditation — they lost 25 accreditation points.

Before 2018, the students were making steady academic progress over the previous four years. Additionally, the St Louis schools were close to​ regaining full state accreditation, falling short by only two accreditation points.

The current St Louis schools board majority gained control in​ April of​ 2018.
Though overall improvements are expected in​ the next few years, the St Louis schools legacy from the last board majority is​ a​ poor learning environment, larger class sizes, greater reliance on uncertified substitute teachers, serious student discipline problems, and poor staff morale. What improvements have been made during the short tenure of​ the new majority have been greatly overshadowed by the problems.

Budget Voted Down

The budget for the 2018-2018 school year proposed by the St Louis schools superintendent was shot down due to​ its broad spending of​ nearly $500 million with no coherent, detailed plan of​ action, oversight or​ accountability.

Williams must trim down his proposed budget or​ locate new funding sources to​ support it, as​ well as​ create a​ detailed plan with oversight and accountability. The St Louis schools board believes that the public, parents and the board have a​ right to​ know how scarce monies are being spent.

Currently, the most urgent need for the St Louis schools is​ a​ measurable plan for solving the current problems, while providing the greatest possible opportunities for learning within a​ dependable and stable educational environment.

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