Like it or not, redistricting long overdue in Mehlville

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

The word “redistricting” often strikes fear in the hearts of parents of school-age children.

In fact, it’s been our experience that parents are far more resistant to change than their children. But for the Mehlville School District, it’s indisputable that redistricting is long overdue.

Mehlville has not embarked on a major redistricting initiative in 14 years. Sure, minor tweaks have been done from time to time.

But a full districtwide process has not been conducted since 2002 when two committees were established — a 22-member Elementary Redistricting Committee and a 12-member Middle School Redistricting Committee — to research new elementary school and new middle school boundaries.

Those new boundaries, necessitated by the addition of the new Bernard Middle School and the elimination of the former Bernard Elementary School, were effective with the 2003-2004 school year.

That’s a long time to go without a major redistricting, and as the Call’s Gloria Lloyd reported last week, has resulted in instruction jammed into hallways at some schools, while other schools across the district have empty classrooms.

We agree with Superintendent Chris Gaines that disparity of class sizes throughout the district necessitates a major redistricting initiative.

Quite frankly, though, this is just another example of issues that were left unaddressed — either by choice or incompetence — by past boards and administrations that demonstrated a real lack of forward motion and a kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality.

Gaines will mark his one-year anniversary as Mehlville superintendent on July 1. We believe he has done a remarkable job since taking the reins from interim Superintendent Norm Ridder.

Ridder’s brief, but distinguished tenure as superintendent was highlighted by the strategic plan that he spearheaded that laid the foundation for the success Mehlville currently is enjoying.

Like we said, much of Gaines’ time during the past year has been spent putting out fires left by past boards and administrations, with redistricting being a prime example.

Like it or not, we agree with Gaines that it has to be done.

We further believe that the majority of Mehlville students are resilient and in most cases will adapt to the change quicker than their parents.