Mehlville makes right call to fund after-school buses

By Mike Anthony

We believe the Mehlville Board of Education made the right call when it voted 5-2 last week to authorize spending up to $76,000 on transportation for Riverview Gardens students attending Mehlville who want to participate in after-school activities.

After all, they are Mehlville School District students now and they should be offered the same opportunities as other district students, including participating in after-school activities. It’s disappointing that board Vice President Lori Trakas and board Secretary Rich Franz cast the dissenting votes.

We believe Superintendent Eric Knost said it best when he told board members last week, “They’re our kids. There may be people that disagree with the process that made them our kids, but for educators to say we’re not going to treat them the same because technically we don’t have to? To me it’s just, if we claim we’re student-centered, then we’re student-centered and the mission’s the same for all students that are under our guidance.”

While it’s a shame that the state-appointed Special Administrative Board — Chairman Lynn Beckwith Jr., Vice Chair Veronica Morrow-Reel and Secretary/Treasurer Mark Tranel — that governs the Riverview Gardens School District did not step up to provide after-school transportation for students attending Mehlville schools, it’s certainly not a surprise.

In fact, in an Aug. 13 closed session, the board voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Scott Spurgeon’s recommendation that the district not provide after-school transportation.

It would be a real stretch to call many recent decisions of the Riverview Gardens board student-centered — starting with its decision to select the Mehlville School District as its transportation district. Could the board have found a school district further away than Mehlville? Doubtful.

Mehlville officials have been taking a lot of heat lately regarding their decision to limit the number of transfer students. At least three organizations have threatened lawsuits against the district.

Maybe we’re missing something, but why aren’t some of these threats aimed at Rivierview Gardens, which lost its accreditation in 2007, or the Special Administrative Board, which was appointed by the State Board of Education in 2010?

Where’s the accountability?

Quite frankly, there is none, as the Special Administrative Board isn’t accountable to parents or taxpayers in either Riverview Gardens or Mehlville.