District Headlines

Mehlville School Board Chooses New Leadership
The Mehlville School Board selected Samantha Stormer as its new president during a reorganizational meeting on Thursday, April 14. Stormer replaces Venki Palamand as president. The board also selected Jean Pretto as board vice-president and Dr. Lisa Dorsey as board secretary. The board reorganization comes following the April 5th election, when voters selected Larry Felton and Kevin Schartner for three year terms on the board. Felton was re-elected, Schartner was the top vote getter and replaces Lori Trakas on the board.

Mehlville Voters Pass Prop A, Choose Two Board Members
Residents of the Mehlville School District passed Proposition A and picked two people for the Board of Education on Tuesday, April 5. 

For the school board, Kevin Schartner received 7,056 votes, Larry Felton received 6,731 votes and Lori Trakas received 5,455 votes. Felton and Trakas were running for new terms on the board. This was Kevin Schartner’s first time as a board candidate. Schartner and Felton will be sworn in at the April 14th board meeting.

Proposition A received 7,861 votes in favor and 4,455 opposing the measure. Prop A moves 4 cents out of debt service and into a fund used to repair school roofs and HVAC systems. There is no increase in taxes for District residents. Prop A funds were approved for ten years. Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines said, “We greatly appreciate the financial support our community continues to show the school district. Having funds specifically dedicated to building repairs will help eliminate bigger, more expensive problems in the future.”

Senator Sifton Checks Out School Lunch Program
Missouri State Senator Scott Sifton joined students for lunch at Blades Elementary on Friday, February 19th, to learn more about how food and nutrition services are operated in public schools.

Mehlville Director of School Food and Nutrition Services Katie Koester walked Sifton through the food line and pointed out the healthy menu choices offered to students, many of which are now mandated by the federal government’s National School Lunch Program (NSLP). During the past few years the NSLP has increased the emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods. While the state of Missouri does not oversee school food programs, elected officials like Sifton can take local concerns to the federal regulators who set food and nutrition standards.

Superintendent Updates Prop R Spending Plan
As part of the Proposition R initiative, the administration of the Mehlville School District made a pledge to keep the community informed about how, when and where those tax dollars would be spent. 

While Prop R money will not be available until the 2016-2017 school year, there has been a lot of progress in hiring new teachers, restoring programs that were cut this year, providing more training for our educators, and scheduling badly needed repairs for our facilities and equipment. 

Click here to watch a video by Dr. Chris Gaines, who explains what has been happening since the levy passed in November.

District Chooses New IT Director
The Mehlville School District has selected Paul Westbrook to be the new Director of Technology Services for the district. Westbrook is replacing Steven Lee, who has retired following a 34 year career with the Mehlville District.

Paul Westbrook has been the Assistant Principal at Bernard Middle School for the past four years. He previously taught science for ten years at Bernard. Westbrook has a B.S. Degree in Education from Southern Illinois University, a Masters Degree in Administration from Southeast Missouri State University and an Ed.S Educational Specialist Degree from Lindenwood University.

Paul Westbrook’s background in education will be a key component as efforts continue to better integrate technology and curriculum in the District. “I am excited to help continue the good work that the IT department is accomplishing,” said Westbrook. “I believe that I can help serve as a bridge to identify the balance of concerns from the department while maintaining focus on the educational goals of the district.”

Paul Westbrook begins his new duties on Monday, February 8.

District Picks Leader For Innovative School
Dr. Scott Clark has been selected to lead the efforts to create a new innovative elementary school in the Mehlville School District. For the past seven years, Dr. Clark has been the principal at Forder Elementary School.

The new elementary school is the centerpiece of a plan by Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines to expand the educational rigor in the district and to introduce student-centered teaching techniques to improve academic performance. The innovative elementary school will be located in the St. John’s school building, which currently houses the SCOPE alternative education program. Children throughout the Mehlville School District will be able to apply to attend the new school. A random lottery will be used to select students.

Dr. Clark has two Master’s Degrees in education from Lindenwood University as well as a doctorate from Maryville University. He began his education career as an art teacher in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Clark later taught at Point Elementary and became an Assistant Principal at Bierbaum Elementary before being hired as Forder Elementary’s principal in 2009. “This is an amazing opportunity, both for me and the children in the Mehlville School District,” said Dr. Clark. “Making this school a reality will truly be a collaborative effort by the administration, the school board, our teachers and members of the Mehlville and Oakville communities.”

The proposed timeline calls for the new innovative elementary school to open in August 2017.

John Cary Earns Character Award
The John Cary Early Childhood Center is the latest Mehlville District school to be named a State School of Character. JCECC Director Ann Westbrook said, “This is an honor that is shared by the entire staff at our school. It shows their dedication to caring and nurturing the children of our community. It is nice to see all that hard work be recognized on a national level.”

The Schools of Character application process is an opportunity for schools and districts to receive thoughtful feedback for growth and excellence in the area of character development through Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education framework. It is also a method of recognizing exemplary schools and districts in the nation.

Since its inception, Character.org has awarded more than 500 schools with the distinction of State School of Character. Criteria for the designation are based on Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education, which includes providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership and engaging families and communities as partners in character-building efforts. 

Bus Fees Eliminated
The Mehlville School Board has voted to stop charging a bus fee to families that live less than one mile from their schools. The decision came during the board meeting on Thursday, January 7.

The bus fee of $218 a year was included in the budget package that eliminated $4 million in spending for the 2015-2016 school year. Because of continued control over expenses and favorable balances in some spending accounts, the board voted 5-2 to eliminate the bus fee. While there were no incidents reported during the first half of the school year, board member Jean Pretto cited her concern for student safety as her main reason for restoring free bus service for all students.

Families that live less than one mile from their schools will be contacted by the Transportation Department to further discuss the elimination of the fee program.

Superintendent Proposes Major School Changes
A plan to add innovation and extra rigor to the Mehlville School District was unveiled by Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines at the Board of Education Meeting on Thursday, January 7.

The centerpiece of the plan is to create a new elementary school that would use cutting edge teaching methods to expand both what students learn and how they learn. While the planning is still in the early stage and needs final approval by the Board, the new elementary school would be based in the old St. John’s school which currently houses the SCOPE program. The SCOPE program would be moved to the Witzel Learning Center, located next to the administration building.

Under the plan outlined by Dr. Gaines, middle schools and high schools would also be enhanced by the potential for International Baccalaureate programs, magnet programs and early college options that would let high school students take college level courses.

After hearing the presentation, the board overwhelmingly and enthusiastically told the superintendent to move forward with development of the innovative school program and to determine the cost of implementing the plan. Dr. Gaines says he would like to have everything in place for the 2017-2018 school year.

Click here to watch the superintendent’s presentation to the school board.

Mehlville High Basketball Scrimmage Food Drive
On Wednesday, November 18, the Mehlville Varsity Girls Basketball Team, along with St. Pius, Fox, and Parkway West Varsity Girls Basketball teams are participating in a 4 team scrimmage at Mehlville High School. As a suggested admission, all the athletes and parents in attendance are encouraged to bring at least one item to donate to the Mehlville Gives Back food pantry

Oakville High Holds November Food Drive
Students at Oakville High are collecting food donations throughout November in order to help take care of families who might be struggling during the holidays. All the food is being given to Feed My People, which is a South County food pantry that does a great job caring for our community. 

Prop R Passes
Residents of the Mehlville and Oakville communities voted overwhelmingly to approve Proposition R, which will increase District revenues by $8.3 million beginning next year. Prop R will raise property tax rates by 49 cents per $100 valuation. The cost to the owner of a $150,000 home is less than $12 a month. The additional revenue will pay for 16 new teachers who will focus on struggling learners, as well as purchase new textbooks and library materials, provide computers for high school seniors, restore most clubs that were cut for the 2015-2016 school year, and increase professional development training for District teachers.

Optimist Honor
Congratulations to Washington Middle student Alanna Crumley, who was honored as the Student of the Month by the Mehlville Optimist Club. Alanna is an 8th grade student who has an A average at school. Washington Middle Principal Adam Smith praised her for not only her academic achievements but for her kindness to other students and the respect she shows to teachers and administrators.

Food Bank Success
A well deserved tip of the cap to the Junior Counselors at Beasley Elementary for hosting a Hunger Stops Here food drive. The students collected 1,168 items for the food bank at Beasley. Great job!

Fredbird Visits Rogers
Fredbird stopped by Rogers Elementary on Monday, October 26, to help unveil the National School of Character banner. Fredbird and retired pitcher Kyle McClellan also hosted the Doin' It Right program that urges kids to stay in school, stay away from drugs, eat healthy and to participate in sports. Plus...a serious case of Dance Fever broke out with Fredbird and the Rogers teachers.

Red Ribbon Kickoff
Sometimes a serious message is best served as entertainment. Look no further than Bernard Middle, which kicked off Red Ribbon Week on Monday, October 26 with teachers dancing and lip syncing at a school assembly. The Red Ribbon program teaches teens about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.

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