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.

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Demolition and excavation work for a new federal intelligence agency headquarters in north St. Louis received environmental scrutiny and regulation that officials said is “above and beyond” what’s required.

When some of that demolition material from the site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s West headquarters was moved across the street, and next to a public school, little if any monitoring occurred. Parents and staff at the Gateway school complex on North Jefferson Avenue, point to the 30-foot piles of rubble they say brought high levels of dust and caused breathing problems and other ailments at the school over several months.

Isaiah Carson was happy and healthy on an early April afternoon as he worked on spelling with his dad at the family’s kitchen table.

That wasn’t the case a few months earlier when he started having trouble breathing. He was wheezing and had a shallow cough.

Isaiah, who’s 5, would lie in bed with his parents at night, unable to sleep. His father, Michael Carson, felt helpless. “He scared me to death,” Carson said.

As the clock winds down on the Missouri General Assembly’s regular session, legislators distracted by the Greitens scandal have done little to change the public school landscape. But that could change in coming weeks as a massive policy bill nears passage and the two chambers negotiate differences in the education budget.

Lax handling of cash created an environment that allowed a former Hazelwood high school principal to embezzle thousands of dollars, according to a state audit of the school district. It also found the district took in $95,000 more in state funding than it should have.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released the results of a year-long review of the north St. Louis County school district’s finances Wednesday evening. A few dozen parents attended a presentation by Galloway in the gymnasium of Central High School.

Alex Cunningham is sprawled across the hallway in a corner of the University City High School music department. His laptop rests on his chest. Headphones cover his ears.

“I was trying to get to the studio but the door was locked,” he explained.

Cunningham, an 18-year-old senior, didn’t feel like doing the four flights of stairs down and up again to find a staff member to let him in. So he plopped down in the hall, outside of what could be considered his classroom.

High school students from across the St. Louis region took part in another day of action Friday to call for improved school safety and tighter gun control measures.

The protest fell on the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where 13 people were killed. Many consider that event the moment when mass school shootings entered Americans’ consciousness. The Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, has rocketed student activists to the center of the debate over guns.

LGBTQ youth, particularly in the Midwest, suffer higher rates of bullying than their straight peers, which researchers say can have long-term negative effects on their academics.

Because bullying can lower self-esteem and discourage students from coming to school or engaging with peers, learning suffers. This is magnified for LGBTQ youth, according to Dana Peterson, a criminal justice professor at the State University of New York at Albany.

Splinters and paper cuts? No. Broken bones? Yes, that’s more worthy of a trip to the hospital. So goes a first-aid lesson for a first-grader.

Treating bumps and scrapes is the first lesson of Little Medical School, a St. Louis County-based company that introduces young learners to health and science.

Updated May 8 at 8:30 a.m. with new recommendations —

Some degrees slated to be dropped at the University of Missouri-St. Louis appear to have been saved.

UMSL administrators released final recommendations Monday on a restructuring effort designed to save the public institution money. The entire University of Missouri System is going through a similar process at the direction of President Mun Choi.

Most visitors to schools are used to seeing a sign on the entrance making it clear that firearms are prohibited on school property.

Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts that allow some teachers to carry guns to post a sign reading: "Under Missouri law, this school and its staff are authorized to meet threats to student safety with deadly force if necessary."

A small number of rural Missouri school districts are allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. Instead of following a state law that sets out how districts can arm teachers, the schools are using a private security firm to oversee training.

Some say that raises legal and liability questions.

The federal spending plan approved by Congress this week renews a program splitting lumber profits between the U.S. Forest Service and rural school districts within federal forestland, after the equal sharing agreement lapsed in 2014.

Nearly 100 schools in southern Missouri contain parts of the Mark Twain National Forest. Some pruned budgets and put off buying buses after drops in timber payments of more than $100,000 each of the past two fiscal years.

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

Students in St. Louis — and around the country — walked out of school Wednesday morning as part of a national call for improved school safety and tighter gun-control measures.

The first joint meeting between St. Louis’ two school boards could be seen as the starting gun many in the community have wanted to hear for a decade. For others, it’s a reminder of a troubled past for the school system. But a return of St. Louis Public Schools to elected control likely won’t be a sprint, but rather a slow walk to June 2019.

The seven-member Board of Education flanked a three-person Special Administrative Board, or SAB, during a special meeting Tuesday night at SLPS’s headquarters to begin the process of transitioning back to democratic control.

Parkway School District parents filled a middle school cafeteria for a school board candidate forum Monday night that usually attracts only enough parents to fill a single classroom.

Interest in the race spiked in January, when social media posts by one of the candidates were circulated among parent groups. Several parents said the views expressed on Twitter by Jeanie Ames are racist and out of line with the mission of the west St. Louis County district.

Discontinued during the turmoil of unaccreditation and reincorporation, a gifted learning program has returned to Normandy’s elementary schools.

At Washington Elementary, about a dozen students who tested two grade levels higher on an intelligence aptitude test are in the program. The students, ranging from third to sixth grade, gather twice a week to work on special projects in what was once an unused classroom.

Students across the St. Louis region are planning school walkouts this week as part of a national call for improved school safety and tighter gun-control measures.

Students at more than a dozen schools in the area are planning events Wednesday morning in response to the mass school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. That’s left school officials to figure out the best way to respond: should they support student involvement and civic engagement, or should they enforce school rules?

DOC JAYHAWK / Flickr

Superintendent Tim Hager's district in central Missouri is surrounded by federal forestland in every direction. 

School buses shuttle some of the 366 students in the Iron County C-4 School District between their homes dotted throughout the national forestland and the school campus in the small town of Viburnum. 

Superintendent Tim Hager’s district in central Missouri is surrounded by federal forestland in every direction.

School buses shuttle some of the 366 students in the Iron County C-4 School District between their homes dotted throughout the national forestland and the school campus in the small town of Viburnum.

The drive on tough gravel roads beats the buses up, Hager said, but he hasn’t been receiving the big checks from the U.S. Forest Service he once got, so he’s putting off buying a new bus.

Parents with children in private schools are filling gymnasiums and cafeterias to learn how they can take advantage of a new tax break to save money on tuition.

Traditionally, so-called 529 plans were a way for parents to stash money away to pay for their child’s college education, without having to pay taxes on the gains. The federal tax overhaul plan enacted late last year changed rules around 529 plans so they can also be used to pay for private K-12 school tuition, up to $10,000 a year.

Most students at Jefferson Elementary live within a mile of the school, meaning they’re within walking distance under St. Louis Public Schools’ transportation policy.

Yet Jefferson’s principal, Kristen Taylor, said kids in the near north side Carr Square neighborhood were often late or didn’t show up at all. Attendance for the school’s roughly 225 students at the end of the first semester was nearly 20 percent below the state’s desired 90-percent level for schools.

School counselors in Missouri already have high student caseloads and added duties, even as teachers, students and parents here and around the country call for more mental health services in schools to prevent future mass shootings.

Missouri, and most other states, have a shortage of school guidance counselors — and limited money to hire more.

Radi and Hadi Hamdan’s English is getting better, slowly. Sitting in the living room of their Florissant home on a recent evening, they struggled to get through more than introducing themselves before switching back to Arabic.

The 12-year-old twins moved to the northern St. Louis suburb from the West Bank last summer, finally reuniting with their father, who has lived in the United States for two decades.

The twins are seventh-graders in Hazelwood School District’s West Middle School. Radi likes art class. Hadi’s favorite subject is math. They also need intense English-language instruction in order to follow other courses.

High school students in St. Louis are lending their voice to the national debate about making schools safer.

On Friday morning, a few dozen student from Clayton High School trudged across a soggy field in front of their school and called for an assault-weapons ban in Missouri and money for security upgrades to schools.

Within five years of being in a St. Louis Public Schools classroom, nearly half of teachers leave the district.

Now SLPS is considering adopting the St. Louis Teacher Residency Program in an effort to retain new teachers. Recruits would spend a full school year embedded in a classroom shadowing an experienced teacher while also earning their teaching certificate.

A growing list of Missouri school leaders are organizing to push for changes to the way their students are tested, saying the current model is in constant flux and doesn’t provide useful feedback on student learning.

The end-of-year exams that have become emblematic to public education are an “archaic and broken process,” said Rockwood School District Superintendent Eric Knost, an outspoken critic of standardized testing.

Camille Phillips / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers are making another attempt at expanding independent charter schools outside of the state’s two major cities, this time with a more narrow focus.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Monday voted 7-6 to advance a charter school expansion bill. The legislation allows charter schools to go head-to-head with struggling schools but not entire districts.

 


Missouri lawmakers are making another attempt at expanding independent charter schools outside of the state’s two major cities, this time with a more narrow focus.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Monday voted 7-6 to advance a charter school expansion bill. The legislation allows charter schools to go head-to-head with struggling schools but not entire districts.

St. Louis officials are shifting gears to bring a bike share program to city residents and visitors.

The St. Louis Board of Alderman Friday approved the permit application to run what’s known as a “dockless” bike share program. Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, the bill’s sponsor, is hopeful a company will be up and pedaling later this year.

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