Christopher: Mehlville ready for leadership role in MSBA


Executive Editor

Mehlville Board of Education Presi-dent Cindy Christopher believes it’s time for board members to step forward and take a leadership role with the Mis-souri School Boards Association.

Christopher’s comments at a recent Board of Education came after three board members discussed their experiences attending the MSBA’s annual conference in October at Lake of the Ozarks.

After the board members — Mike Heins, Secretary Marea Kluth-Hoppe and Tom Correnti — commented about their ex-periences at the conference, Superintendent Tim Ricker recommended the board “look for a way for our district to be presenters” at either the MSBA’s spring conference in June or at the annual conference next fall.

The 2004 MSBA conference, conducted in cooperation with the Missouri Associ-ation of School Administrators, took place Oct. 22 to Oct. 24 at the Tan-Tar-A Resort.

Ricker also attended the conference.

During their Nov. 18 meeting, board members discussed their experiences at the MSBA conference.

Heins said, “… It was a very good conference. As usual, they had a lot of classes offered and, as usual, I was very proud to represent the Mehlville School District. Sitting in those classes, you can just tell that we operate on a different level than the average school district in the state of Mis-souri, and that comes a lot with size and also comes a lot with the terrific staff …

“The business meeting — the business meeting was really a waste of time,” he continued. “They wouldn’t allow discussion on some of the things that those of us in Region 7 wanted to talk about, which might have been good in a way because it might have started a dialogue between more school districts here in the area. And one thing I did learn that as far as membership goes, Region 7, which is pretty much the St. Louis metropolitan area, is the only region in the state which has 100 percent participation in the MSBA.

“I thought that was pretty interesting. So I thought, well, you know, I think we ought to use that clout a little bit and let them know who we are. So we’ve already had some conversations. I’ve e-mailed some of the other school districts and talked about some things that we want to do in the spring … It could be very interesting,” Heins said.

The MSBA conference was very beneficial, Kluth-Hoppe said, noting she attended sessions about legislative issues involving school finance and using data to close the achievement gap.

“Those were two general sessions that were offered — very appropriate for what our district is involved in and in addition to those, there were numerous breakout sessions that we could attend … I, too, was impressed that our district is right on track with these ideas …,” she said.

The board secretary also said the interaction with board members from other districts is extremely valuable.

Correnti, who was elected to the board in April, said he felt privileged to attend the conference.

“… I also saw that it was good to interact with other board members from other school districts …,” he said, noting that one of the breakout sessions he attended in-volved school security. “Being an ex-police officer as I am, I found that was an interesting concept to talk about that …”

Noting that he attended many sessions at the conference, Ricker said, “… I think in-creasingly, every year that I go to all of the conferences related to the things that are important to us in education, I continue to be proud of our district and think that our district is, in many cases, on the cutting edge of a lot of the things that others are just starting to think about. And with that being said, on the back wall we have the Board of Education’s goals for 2004-2005, and I would recommend that we collectively as a group of eight individuals look at a way for our district to be presenters at either the spring conference on June 17 and June 18 or next year’s fall conference on topics that are important to us and we think we could share some information with other superintendents and, more importantly, other board members.

“So as those calls for proposals and calls for presentations come forward, I’ll be sharing those with you and I will challenge us to think of a way that we can be presenters ….,” the superintendent said.

Christopher agreed with Ricker, saying, “… I know when I started going to MSBA six years ago … I brought a lot of ideas back — that there were a lot of things there that we could be looking at. Some things didn’t fit for us for whatever reason … But I think as I continued to go over the years, that has become less.

“It may be just the fact that we’re knowledgeable about the process, but I also think we are doing more innovative things than a lot of other districts, so I do think it’s really time for us to just step forward and take a leadership role with the MSBA …,” the board president added.