Mehlville’s future brighter today than in November, Palamand says


Letter to the Editor

To the editor:
My compliments to the Mehlville Board of Education.
The board’s decision in December to increase support for elementary students is a step in the right direction and a positive change from the recent past.
Two years ago, after approval of a tax-rate increase, two board members proposed adding $200,000 to elementary school budgets to support students and improve learning. The administration rejected that proposal as “unnecessary.”
One year ago, some board members proposed immediately adding interventionists and tutors to improve math scores that many found “embarrassing.”
Again, that was rejected by the administration, which claimed it had a “solid plan and strategy” in place that would improve scores “3 percent to 5 percent.” While some of us were skeptical, the majority of the board again deferred to the administration. As regular readers know, test scores continued to decline.
Thankfully, this year was different. As former Board of Education President Ron Fedorchak said, “Enough is enough.”
Mehlville’s board finally stepped up and showed some real leadership. It was led by members Jamey Murphy and Kevin Schartner, who did an outstanding job.
Neither are board officers, but perhaps should have been.
They pushed the administration to show urgency and take action. Mehlville will now invest in specialized math software for K-5 students, and more importantly, will immediately add educators to six elementary schools.
These six temporary full time positions — math interventionists — will bring focused attention to students who need immediate help. The total cost will be insignificant for a school district with $27 million in reserves. Smaller class sizes and focused interventions have been a key component to the success of such higher-performing districts as Lindbergh.
As former board President Dan Fowler stated, “Our community needs the Mehlville School District to succeed for the sake of our kids and the vitality of our people.”
Thanks to the public outcry over poor results and the dedicated, passionate efforts of Mr. Murphy and Mr. Schartner, I believe that Mehlville students will once again regain their status prior to 2015 — and perform above state averages in both reading and math. The future is brighter today than in November.
Well done by the Mehlville Board of Education.
Venki Palamand

Editor’s note: Venki Palamand served on the Mehlville Board of Education from 2007 to 2013 and from 2014 to 2017.