Ryan Delaney | KBIA

Ryan Delaney

Originally from Burlington, Vermont, Ryan has worked for Northeast Public Radio in Albany, The Allegheny Front in Pittsburgh, and WAER in Syracuse, where his work was honored by the Syracuse Press Club. His reporting has also aired on New Hampshire Public Radio and Vermont Public Radio.

Ryan has a degree in broadcast journalism and international relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

It’s not unusual to see several school buses crisscrossing St. Louis neighborhoods early in the morning, each carrying just a few kids.

There’s a chance that soon, students who live in the same neighborhoods but attend different schools, whether KIPP or Confluence charter schools or St. Louis Public Schools, could all pile onto the same bus.

The founder and leader of St. Louis College Prep submitted phony attendance sheets to the state education department for several years in order to funnel more than $1.4 million to his charter school fraudulently, a state audit released Tuesday found.

St. Louis College Prep, an independent public charter school, shuttered in May after graduating its first senior class. Its founder, Mike Malone, resigned last November after the school’s sponsor and board confronted him regarding the financial irregularities. 

Dozens of rural Missouri school districts are crying “timber” after Congress allowed legislation that sends half of federal timber profits to schools lapse again.

That includes the Alton School District in Oregon County, not far from the Arkansas border, where Superintendent Eric Allen said the district will have to consider staff cuts if the funding isn’t renewed over the winter.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

An educator advisory panel is recommending mandating gifted and talented instruction at every school district.

That requirement was eliminated in 2006. 

Steve Coxon is chair of the gifted education advisory council. He told the state school board Tuesday that removing the mandate led to a disastrous loss of gifted programs in rural schools.

“One after the other, over 100 programs in the state,” Coxon said. “And that’s a disaster for the talent development and long-term economic viability by draining that talent potential, particularly from our rural areas.”

The Missouri State Board of Education took steps Tuesday toward putting more counselors and support staff in the state’s public schools.

Counselors in Missouri currently serve an average of 347 students, according to the American School Counselor Association. That’s under the state requirement of a ratio of one counselor per 400 students but significantly higher than its recommendation of a counselor serving 250 students each.

How the Missouri education department measures student comprehension and school performance is complicated. The manual for determining a school’s performance is dozens of pages long. 

Making it even more complex, students have taken four different sets of tests in six years. Just when the test saw stability, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education overhauled the way it presents school performance (in short, it got more colorful and less numerical).

We had the headlines for what to make of this year’s Annual Performance Reports and Missouri Assessment Program tests. But now that there’s been time to digest the data, here are takeaways:

Missouri’s school report cards are out, and they don’t look anything like they did last year.

The redesigned Annual Performance Report (APR) does away with the percentile score that the state uses to make accreditation decisions and replaces it with color-coded bar graphs meant to give parents a more detailed look at how their school district or charter school is doing. 

But educators aren’t sure how accessible all that information really is.

Missouri schools are getting a different kind of report card from the state. It's now color coded instead of offering a numerical grade.

The Annual Performance Report is the state’s way of showing how school districts are doing. After years of providing a percentile score that conveyed how school districts ranked, this year’s APR instead uses color-coded bar graphs that measure not only how students did on state tests, but how much they improved.

School districts in St. Louis are trying new ways to get a qualified adult in classrooms when the teacher is out.

Districts have employed technology, pay bumps and advertising as they compete for a small pool of people willing to supervise students in a pinch.

Regional students from low-income and middle-class backgrounds will be able to attend Washington University completely free under a major expansion of financial assistance by the prestigious university.

When it starts next year, the Wash U Pledge will be available to students from Missouri and the southern half of Illinois with household incomes below $75,000, which is roughly triple the federal poverty line for a family of four. The full cost of a Wash U education is about $72,000 a year with tuition, room and board and fees.

Eddie Hill IV never showed up for the fifth grade. The 10-year-old was shot and killed enjoying his summer vacation from his front porch in the Lewis Place neighborhood, which borders the Central West End. 

His death has upended the school year for his former classmates at Pamoja Preparatory Academy at Cole. 

Eddie is one of a dozen children who have died in violence so far this year, part of a dizzying streak of young children being killed by bullets not meant for them, while doing things a kid is supposed to be doing in the summer: playing in the yard, eating pizza and going to football games.

The St. Louis Board of Education took the brunt of the frustration about gun violence that has taken the lives of a dozen children in the city from residents, parents and school staff Thursday night.

The school board held a special meeting at its Vashon High School to listen to ideas for how to keep its students alive.

Board members and district leadership say they are equally vexed by the deadly past several months, during which six St. Louis Public Schools students have been shot and killed — four over their summer vacation and two in the early weeks of the school year. At least two more have been wounded by gunfire.

Gavin Schiffres pulls caffeinated hard candy wrappers out of the pocket of his dress slacks, admitting he’s only been sleeping a few hours a night. 

It’s been an exhausting first week tending to the new charter middle school he co-founded. 

Kairos Academies opened Monday in the top floor of a printing company along Jefferson Avenue on St. Louis’ south side. There have been a few hiccups to contend with: Student calendar apps weren’t working; the Wi-Fi completely crashed Thursday. 

The lines of students snaking through the hall of the Affton preschool were squiggly.

It will take some practice, just like how to use the bathroom and wash hands before returning to play time. 

Everything was new for the 200 students Tuesday morning for their first day at the Early Childhood Center in Affton. 

In a single phone call on an afternoon in June, Superintendent Kent Sherrow learned that his Iron County C-4 School District would lose nearly a quarter of its budget. Doe Run Mining Company had contested its property tax assessment, lopping off more than $1 million from the Ozark school district’s revenue.

“It’s not the same district it was a year ago,” Sherrow said. “Right now, our whole district is in a situation where we’ve got to catch our breath and get our feet back under us.”

Missouri schools will start much closer to Labor Day beginning in 2020, creating a dilemma for many working parents: What to do with the kids?

Some have already begun asking summer camps whether they’ll stretch their season longer next summer. Yet camp organizers warn they may struggle to keep costs down for families while providing enough counselors to lead activities for two extra weeks. 

Every Missouri public school should employ armed protection to keep children safe from active shooters.

That is the main takeaway from a report released Wednesday by a task force formed by Gov. Mike Parson in March to improve school safety. A federal panel spent much of 2018 conducting a similar review of school safety measures and released its report in December.

Nora Pryor imagines squeaking sneakers on hardwood floors when she thinks of gym class. But her physical education is currently punctuated by chirping cardinals.

Nora, 15, laps Boulevard Park in Lake St. Louis several times a week, mixing speed walking and jogging on a hot summer morning to get her heart rate up, and occasionally glancing down at her Garmin fitness tracker.

Three charter schools are enrolling students this summer before opening their doors for the first time in August.

Two schools will be run by longtime charter operators in St. Louis, while a third is being opened by young Teach For America alumni.

Updated 9:30 p.m., June 19, with results of recall vote — The president of the union representing St. Louis’ traditional public school teachers survived a recall vote Wednesday night. But the effort to oust her has created a clear fissure in the union.

Sally Topping is only two years into her first term as president of American Federation of Teachers Local 420. An executive board that predates her failed to oust her on charges she’s misled members and lacked financial transparency. Topping calls the claims weak and exaggerated.

Fans will say this parade has been 52 years in the making. Those organizing it put the event together in a matter of days.

“We’re very superstitious in hockey,” said Steve Chapman of the Blues’ front office. “So we started planning this about two days into the Stanley Cup Final. Quietly, very quietly.”

But details are set for the Blues’ championship parade and rally to celebrate the team winning the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup this week. It’s the team’s first championship.

The De Soto School District can improve its tracking of employee compensation, contracts, attendance reporting and handling of lunch and athletic money, according to a state review of the school system’s accounting.

The Missouri state auditor released an audit of De Soto schools Wednesday evening. The report lists 12 findings, including some that require immediate attention, earning the district a rating of “fair.” State audits earn one of four rankings, from excellent, to good, fair or poor.

Riverview Gardens will remain a provisionally accredited school district, after the Missouri State Board of Education declined to vote on its petition for full accreditation.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had recommended that the board deny the request because the district didn’t score enough points on its annual performance report for full accreditation.

Three courses of algebra stood between Amanda McCleary and a high school diploma.

McCleary, 33, tried twice over the years to earn a GED certificate since dropping out of Vashon High School in St. Louis as a teenager, but the timing wasn’t quite right. When she learned from a friend about a high school for adults being started by MERS Goodwill, “I called instantly,” she said.

McCleary was one of five women in bright blue caps and gowns at the first graduation ceremony in downtown St. Louis Wednesday evening for the alternative high school program that started in October. A sixth student had to miss the ceremony for work.

College applications, diplomas and student loans are still more than a decade away, but St. Louis’ youngest students are stockpiling free cash to pay for their diplomas.

The St. Louis treasurer’s office has opened a college savings account for every kindergartner in public school in the city since 2015 through its College Kids program, seeding each with $50 in parking revenue.

Back to school will be a little later in Missouri next year if lawmakers get their way.

The Missouri General Assembly passed a law pushing school start dates back about a week over the opposition of school administrators. It’s part of an effort to encourage families to fit one more weekend of trips to amusement parks and lakeside cabins around the state.

The cheers at the end of the day could be heard down the hall and around the corner, all the way in the office where Sarah Briscoe was making daily announcements.

The hollering was coming from a second-grade classroom where every student showed up for the school day. The daily ritual of announcing perfect-attendance classrooms is part of the school’s all-out focus on getting its students into desks every day.

Bryan Hill Elementary School in the far-north side College Hill neighborhood can boast an attendance rate 97.9%, a figure bested only by one of St. Louis Public Schools’ gifted-program magnet schools.

The teaching corps of St. Louis Public Schools is becoming older and whiter. And that concerns Superintendent Kelvin Adams.

Adams has asked the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for more flexibility and pathways to getting quality educators into classrooms. It’s something state education officials said is worth serious consideration.

Low pay is the top reason teachers leave the classroom, a new survey of Missouri public school educators found.

The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education asked 6,000 teachers, principals and administrators what makes them keep teaching and what makes them quit. The results were shared at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting.

Maxine Waters, a California congresswoman, is known around the halls of Vashon High School in St. Louis as “Auntie Maxine.”

She returned to her alma mater Monday to speak for an hour to a group of girls six decades younger than her about determination, defying the odds and standing up to threats.

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