South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Progress pinpointed on Mehlville board’s goals for 2008-2009

“Pro-active,” “student-centered” and “results-oriented” were the terms Mehlville Superintendent Terry Noble used recently to describe the Board of Education and the decisions it made during the 2008-2009 school year.

Board members wanted to know how they were doing with regard to achieving six goals they set last fall.

Noble and other administrative officials were able to pinpoint signs of progress under all six goals. They presented their findings to the board late last month:

• Goal No. 1: Enable students to achieve at the highest level possible.

During 2008-’09, officials reported a jump in the number of district high school students taking advanced placement tests, from 120 students in 2007-’08 to 281 this year.

In addition, the high schools added two subjects to an extensive list of college credit courses: theater and speech/debate.

“When I walked into this district seven years ago, I think there were two AP courses and students weren’t even taking the AP tests, so it’s pretty exciting to see that that’s really changed, especially as of the last couple of years,” Deputy Superintendent Eric Knost said.

The alternative-education program — South County Opportunities for the Purpose of Education or Project SCOPE — also expanded in the last school year, its second year at the former St. John’s Elementary School.

SCOPE serves 45 students a year. Knost said although the success of the program — which also serves seven other school districts — couldn’t be empirically measured at the time, he believed it had become an important tool for targeting dropout students.

District principals also received “in-depth training” in 2008-’09 on how to use Tungsten Data to improve Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, test scores in reading and math.

MAP test data from the past year wasn’t available at the time of the June 25 meeting, Noble said.

Finally, two more district elementary schools, Point and Wohlwend, began implementing the Response to Intervention, or RTI, method for pupils who have difficulty learning. Rogers, Hagemann, Forder and Blades elementary schools already have fully implemented RTI.

• Goal No. 2: Enable staff to perform at the highest possible level.

Within human resources, the district added in 2008-’09 two literacy coaches, 4.5 reading instructors and a director of elementary curriculum.

The district also provided professional development in the areas of literacy, RTI, data analysis and universal classroom supports — training for educators at the early childhood and elementary levels to come up with classroom routines and pupil expectations.

• Goal No. 3: Promote community interest and participation in the life of the Mehlville School District.

Officials noted an increase in external communications during the previous school year, including nearly 2 million visits to the district’s Web site in 12 months’ time.

The district also has formed and expanded a number of community groups, including a new alumni association with more than 1,000 contacts developed in its first year.

• Goal No. 4: Serve as an advocate for public education at the local, state and national level.

All board members have completed Certified Board Member training from the Missouri School Boards’ Association. Di-rector Micheal Ocello has achieved advanced level certification, and board secretary Larry Felton recently achieved master’s level certification.

The board has memberships with the MSBA and with Cooperating School Districts and is an active participant in their conferences, Noble said.

• Goal No. 5: Ensure fiscal responsibility in the management of district resources.

The district, at the board’s direction, organized a district finance committee that meets regularly and includes local professionals that serve in an advisory capacity and work with the chief financial officer.

In addition, Noble said administrators have made improvements to the way they present information and data to the board, aiming for more “user-friendly” documents to help members make informed decisions.

Further, by voting to put the “crucial” Proposition T on the ballot last November — and then working for its successful passage — the board helped the district balance its budget, restructure its debt and stabilize its reserves by transferring more than $5 million from the debt-service fund to the general operating fund, Noble said.

• Goal No. 6: Initiate the shared vision — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools or COMPASS — for the future of the Mehlville School District.

Prop T also came up here, Noble said, as the board’s decisions that helped the measure pass in November provided the funding for the first phase of COMPASS and allowed the facilitating team to begin the plan’s second phase.

“There wasn’t a lot of hard data on some of these things, and really in the end it’s all about results and our biggest piece of data is results,” Noble told the board of the goals update. “When you get that, I think that’s really the best way to evaluate your progress, along with any other hard data that you can get.

“But at the same time, I think we’ve tried to do our best to put together some information for you to see that this board has been very pro-active, very student-centered, very results-oriented and I believe we’re making really good progress because of that.”

More to Discover