Knost offers opportunity to join the conversation

By Mike Anthony

Since becoming superintendent of the Mehlville School District in July 2011, Eric Knost has set a new standard for transparency and accessibility.

We’d be hard pressed to think of any superintendent in Mehlville’s recent history who has gone to the lengths that Knost has to make himself available to students and parents.

He also has gone out of his way to meet individually with residents who support the school district and even those who are critics of the district, or perhaps of public education in general.

Another avenue of accessibility that Knost has pursued is periodic town-hall meetings at various venues throughout the district. Knost’s next town-hall meeting is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, March 10, at the Genesis Banquet Center, 2651 Telegraph Road.

The town-hall meetings have no set agenda, but are driven by questions, comments, concerns and suggestions from residents who attend.

At past town-hall meetings, Knost has covered a wide range of issues, including technology, facility upgrades, school safety, district finances, tuition-free, full-day kindergarten and the new Common Core State Standards — to name a few.

Unlike previous superintendents, some of whom couldn’t have cared less about the school district despite their lip service to the contrary, we believe Knost has a great grasp of this community.

We believe the mistakes of the past have provided some valuable lessons for Knost, who, unlike some of his predecessors, has put that knowledge to good use.

For example, during his last town-hall meeting in October, Knost said, “There’s been a lot of times in the past in our school district when things go well for a while — then we step on a land mine and take five steps back. I vow to never step on a land mine.”

Among those “land mines” were failed tax-rate increases of 97 cents in 2006 and 88 cents in 2010. Because of those massively misguided measures, Knost promised in October that if his administration sought more funding, it would first consider bond issues that did not involve a tax-rate increase.

As we’ve noted before, though these events are billed as town-hall meetings, we believe a more appropriate title would be “A Conversation With the Superintendent.”

So if you want to join the conversation with Knost, we urge you to attend Monday’s town-hall meeting.

You won’t be disappointed.