Mehlville School District to sponsor town-hall meeting

Staff Report

The Mehlville School District will sponsor a town-hall meeting for district residents at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Grace Union Church, 3900 Union Road.

Those who attend will have an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns to a panel of district administrators and Board of Education members, according to Superintendent Eric Knost.

Knost told the Call that district officials have no set agenda for the meeting, other than to hear from district residents.

Knost said he is looking to take a different approach to community engagement than what was done through the district’s previous outreach effort, COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools.

“… I don’t think we want to ever forget the work that people did during it, but I mean it’s over with — take the work we did and consider it, but it’s history,” he said of COMPASS.

“… My idea has been that we carry on community engagement where it’s really no-agenda community engagement … I envision it being myself, at least some of my cabinet members, maybe the whole cabinet, and then no more than three board members …,” Knost said, adding that having the meeting at a non-district building might be more welcoming to some residents.

Regarding the meeting, he said, “… I’m going to put together some little bit of an introduction. We’re going to try to advertise it and we really want to just be in a receive mode, allow people the ability to come and offer suggestions, tell us their criticisms. My only hope is that — although anybody’s welcome, but as I always say: I’ll embrace critics that really want to help the school district. If somebody just wants to be cynical, there’s just not a whole lot that can do for me …

“The big question is will we answer questions that night? And the more I think about it, I think we have to — as much as we can. And not in a way to — I don’t want it to be defensive or firing back. As long as something is being presented to us in a fair manner, then whatever we can answer at the time, I want to answer in a fair manner, especially if there is misinformation …”

Board of Education President Venki Palamand told the Call he is looking forward to hearing from residents.

“We look forward to hearing from the residents, in an open, informal setting,” he said. “Board members and the administration welcome the opportunity to answer questions and address any concerns the public may have about our district.”