School board should take bold leap to approve CSOI

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Under the leadership of former interim Superintendent Norm Ridder and current Superintendent Chris Gaines, along with overwhelming voter approval of back-to-back ballot measures, the Mehlville School District is experiencing an unprecedented surge of positive momentum.

In the decades that we’ve covered Mehlville, its future has never looked so bright.

We believe Mehlville’s bright future includes the opening of the proposed Choice School of Innovation, or CSOI, in which students would move at their own pace through project-based curriculum designed to prepare students for the challenges of the real world better than traditional desks-in-rows classrooms.

The Board of Education is scheduled to consider approval of CSOI when it meets Wednesday, Jan. 18.

We urge board members to take a bold leap forward and approve the opening of the new school, as it would be a game-changer in terms of academic achievement.

We say that while taking into account the district Finance Committee’s recent unanimous recommendation against opening CSOI.

The committee believes that approval of CSOI would lead to deficit-spending one year earlier than currently projected — 2019 instead of 2020.

The panel’s recommendation against CSOI is based only on finances, not the educational impact or benefits the new school would provide to students.

Historically, district officials overestimate expenses and underestimate revenue, making it difficult to accurately predict the district’s finances three or four years down the road.

And Mehlville’s finances today are the strongest they’ve been in years — if not the history of the district — as its reserves total $26 million.

Gaines told the Call that if the board doesn’t approve the new school, the issue’s not dead, but could come back in a year or two. We believe not approving CSOI would be a serious mistake, as much of Mehlville’s positive momentum will be lost and difficult, if not impossible, to recapture.

Gaines believes the Choice School of Innovation is how education will be delivered in the future and is recommending the Board of Education approve it. We agree, as this is an opportunity for Mehlville to become the destination district that it desires to be, while positively impacting the education of generations of students.

Schools such as CSOI are the future of education. Doesn’t Mehlville want to be a part of that?