‘It is time for this community to get behind’ Mehlville School District

To the editor:

Over the last 18 to 24 months, I’ve been closely following the editorials around the Mehlville School District.

As a parent of two children who attend school in the district, it’s been my experience that their teachers, school administration and other staff go above and beyond to do the right thing for our children. As a matter of fact, I have a special-needs son who has autism and without the services he has received at John Cary Early Childhood Education, he would not be as far along as he is today.

It’s been troubling to read such negativity about our district when I see so many good things happening. I never really felt the need to respond until I read the letter submitted from Kate Martin.

In her letter, she blasts our school board and the district for spending tax dollars on tennis courts and a performing-arts center.

Frankly, I was shocked that our community didn’t already have those types of facilities. Let’s face it, these are standard facilities items that every other school district already has. As a parent, why shouldn’t we expect our kids to have access to these types of programs and facilities to support them? Is it so bad that our fine-arts programs actually have a facility they can practice and perform in?

Our kids deserve to have a well-rounded education and that goes beyond your basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Sports, fine arts and other programs teach kids how to work together to achieve a common goal. It offers them a way to express themselves and, in many cases, how to communicate effectively and to speak in a public forum. These are skills that they will carry with them the rest of their lives and in turn will help them to become more productive citizens.

Many readers may think, “I didn’t have a tennis team or had a performing-arts center when I was in school. I don’t get why they need it.” Times change and kids today have a much broader sense of what’s happening in the world. They have information at their fingertips and they have very different interests. Certainly, academics are important, but as a community, we should expect our school district to address the needs and interest of all our students.

As a taxpayer, I, too, feel it’s important that the administration and school board are taking a balanced approach in how resources are used and frankly, I think they are doing just that. I read just last week that Superintendent Eric Knost had recommended to hold off on funding the new sound equipment and to hold off on building a walkway between the new performance center and the school, saving in excess of $200,000. This is an excellent example of the board and the administration working together to take a balanced approach to how resources are used.

Finally, I would like to point out that having a strong school district is in the best interest of every single person in the Mehlville-Oakville area. I know that many families have opted to send their children to private school and that is certainly their right to do so, but if we expect our community to thrive, a strong public school district is at the core of the community.

When we started looking to buy a home, the school district had everything to do with where we bought. We live in a great area, but if we don’t support our schools, all of that goes away. It is time for this community to get behind our school district.

Since he took the top job, Dr. Knost has made every effort to get

out in front of the public and has made it clear that he is open to constructive feedback. You may not always agree with the decisions the board makes, but at the end of the day, these are the people who we elected to represent us and, by the way, they’re not getting paid a dime to do it.

Look, it’s not perfect, but let’s not let perfect get in the way of good and the Mehlville School District is doing a lot of good things.

So next time you want to send a nastygram to the editor, please be my guest, but I would also challenge you to think about what you are doing to make it better.