Mehlville changes its story; becoming destination school district

To the editor:

Recent headlines from the Hazelwood School District remind me that Mehlville School District was in a similar position merely a year ago.

Fortunately for our community, because passionate, engaged citizens stepped up and passed Proposition R, our headlines have changed.

Rather than hearing about more cuts to our school district, we have been hearing about all the great things that lie ahead.

• The district has hired more than half of the 16 teachers promised with the passing of Prop R, to include 11 reading interventionists, and five English-language learner teachers, which will result in improving student achievement.

• The district has created an extensive three-year professional development plan centered around student engagement, continuous classroom improvement and innovation.

• The proposed 2016-2017 budget includes: restoring technology funds that were cut by $550,000, classroom supplies that were cut by $50,000 and school clubs that were cut by $200,000. The district is also increasing its investment in textbooks and curriculum support materials by $1.2 million. Funds from Prop R won’t be received until December.

• The transportation department has restored the bus replacement schedule with a one-time investment of approximately $1 million this year and about $600,000 per year in the future.

• The district has also begun to address some of the capital needs to include heating and air conditioning systems, fire alarms, asphalt/parking lots, exterior doors, gym floors and classroom ceilings, just to name a few. The district has a five-year implementation plan for these items, all of which are critical.

Improvements, updates and decisions are being made on a daily basis. Remarkably, the district is also gearing up to open an innovative elementary school, the first of its kind in our area. No Prop R funds are being used for the innovative school.

I urge readers to refer to the district’s website and read the latest news and watch the video featuring Superintendent Chris Gaines outlining the updates as promised by Prop R. See for yourself all the great things that are in the works.

Mehlville is steadily becoming a destination school district.

Let’s continue to change our story.