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Missouri state school board standoff creates delays

Missouri state school board standoff creates delays

February 13th, 2018 by Associated Press in Missouri News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Missouri Board of Education has now missed two of 11 meetings scheduled for this year because it still doesn't have enough members for a quorum.

Gov. Eric Greitens appointed 10 people in the second half of 2017 to the state board that oversees Missouri's public schools. Two declined, one resigned and two others were removed by Greitens in efforts to fire former commissioner Margie Vandeven in December.

The board has lacked a quorum since early January, when Gov. Eric Greitens withdrew and re-submitted five appointees in an effort to buy more time for their Senate confirmations. Lawmakers upset with Greitens' move have threatened to hold up the appointments, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"My biggest concern is that, when we start meeting again, we'd have five new members who have no background on what the board needs to do and what we've been doing in certain areas," said Victor Lenz, the board's vice president.

The canceled meetings have delayed a remake of the state's public school evaluation system, the Missouri School Improvement Program. The project was led largely by Vandeven and would shift the system for grading schools from fixating mainly on student test performance to a more holistic view that looks at factors such as school climate, parent engagement and school leadership.

The standoff could also hold up a decision on what kind of board should govern St. Louis Public Schools. The district's governing board voted last month to recommend a return to the currently halted elected school board. However, the state board has to make the final decision and outline how the transition should occur.

"It just makes a lot of people nervous because we really want to move forward and focus on educating the kids," said Marshall Cohen, executive director of Lift for Life Academy, one of several charter schools waiting for charter renewals now delayed due to the standoff.