Lottery registration currently underway for Mehlville’s new school of innovation

School of innovation lottery to continue through Feb. 24

By Gloria Lloyd

The lottery for the Mehlville School District’s new elementary school of innovation opened this week, before many parents know where their child will go next year due to redistricting.

Redistricting has been underway in Mehlville since the fall, but the public will get its first glimpse of the redrawn boundaries this month when they are posted online for feedback as soon as Wednesday, Feb. 8. The Board of Education is scheduled to make a final decision Thursday, March 9.

The lottery for the Choice School of Innovation, or CSOI, opened Monday and will close at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.

Applications can be printed or submitted online by clicking the “Choice School” tab at


Lottery results will be released by the end of March.

Incoming kindergartners should register at their home school, then enter the lottery, Principal Scott Clark said. Private school families can also apply but need to provide proof of residency.

CSOI is the first school of its kind in the St. Louis region, and students will learn at their own pace and path through personalized learning in the former St. John’s Elementary, 3701 Will Ave.

The first year, it will have 250 K-4 students, then expand to fifth grade and 300 students the second year.

The district’s goal is for CSOI to mirror the Mehlville population as a whole, so slots will be reserved for students at each school, weighted by population. For example, Bierbaum has more slots than Hagemann, which has fewer than half the students of Bierbaum.

A broader aim is for CSOI demographics to mimic those of the district, including special-needs students, free and reduced lunch population and English-language learners. The Special School District will employ two teachers and a speech pathologist at the school.

Just like with Mehlville’s existing school-choice programs, CSOI parents will have to pick up and drop off their children because regular bus transportation will not be provided.

In the morning, students will be able to take a bus to their home school, then catch a ride to CSOI. Those routes come at no cost since all buses are routed back to the transportation facility at Mehlville High School, across from CSOI. If there is demand, Y Care will be offered mornings and evenings.

The lack of buses could be a barrier for some students, but the school’s location in a Lemay neighborhood that currently goes to Bierbaum could help bring some lower-income students who live near the school, Superintendent Chris Gaines told the Call.

The first redistricting in 14 years is spurred by lopsided enrollment that has classes jammed into hallways at some schools and empty classrooms in others.

The Redistricting Committee, led by assistant principals Kelly Roberts of Bierbaum and Whitney Maus of Point and Trautwein, finalized scenarios last week.

But although some parents panic at the idea of moving schools, committee members are urging them to stay calm.

“If we’re in a panic, the kids will be in a panic,” Roberts said. “If the adults adjust, the kids adjust.”

The scenarios — two elementary, two middle school and a high school — will be posted online for public feedback sometime from Feb. 8 to Feb. 17, Maus said.

The district is holding two open houses for public comment, on Monday, Feb. 27, at Washington Middle and Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Blades Elementary.

Both meetings are set to start at 6 p.m. and end at 7 p.m.

The panel has realigned feeder patterns so that Bernard Middle School is no longer split between Oakville and Mehlville high schools.

“We sent our feeder pattern to the demographer who’s working with us, and he said gosh, this is one of the craziest feeder patterns I’ve ever seen,” Maus said.

Only high school seniors will be grandfathered into current schools. Students who want school choice or already use school choice will have to reapply by April 1.