Future bright for Mehlville School District students, board member says

To the editor:

April marks the beginning of my sixth year as a director of the Mehlville Board of Education and I feel very good about the state of our district.

As a father of fourth-generation Mehlville students, regardless of whether Mehlville succeeds or fails, I take it personally.

To date, I am pleased with our progress and even more excited about our future.

While many area school districts are uneasy about their immediate future, thanks to the dedication of our classroom teachers and the steady hand of Superintendent Terry Noble, the days ahead for the students of the Mehlville School District are bright.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Besides the fact that Mehlville has made Missouri’s Distinction in Performance list every year since 2006, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Web site, our children are succeeding. Consider the following: attendance in 2005 was 94.8 percent, attendance in 2009 was 95.2 percent; graduation in 2005 was 87.9 percent, in 2009 it was 90 percent; the dropout rate in 2005 was 2.4 percent, in 2009 it was down to 1.9 percent; students entering four-year colleges/universities was 40 percent in 2005 and is up to 44.8 percent in 2009; and placement of technical education students after graduation was 84.3 percent in 2005 and is up to 93 percent in 2009.

Besides academics, we have basketball and softball teams playing for state championships, football teams outperforming all school teams of the past, musicians and music groups competing in national competitions and speech and debate teams displaying their talents to the nation as the critical thinkers of tomorrow that our teachers are developing in the classrooms of our beloved Mehlville School District today.

You could say something must be in the water at Mehlville that accounts for all of these successes, but I believe it is even more simple than that. In 2005, our average expenditure per student was $6,842. In 2009, it increased to $7,576 — up, but still the second lowest in the county.

Now, I am the first to tell you that money isn’t everything, but when we have 1,200 staff members — Mehlville is the largest employer in our community — who are the best in Missouri at squeezing blood from a turnip, a little extra money works wonders.

The extra money helps us to retain the best and the brightest classroom teachers and administrators. In the past, many of our most qualified teachers and administrators have taken the fast lane of the yellow-brick road to other districts, and the even faster track to retirement.

Maybe I am being selfish, but it is a welcome change in the Mehlville School District that we are, at least in the short term, able to keep the best and brightest teachers and administrators in our district to benefit our children.

Karl Frank Jr.

Oakville