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New Missouri Board of Education member will draw on charter school background

Missouri State Board of Education member Kerry Casey poses for a portrait.
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Kerry Casey, the newest member of the Missouri State Board of Education, says teacher shortages are a top issue in Missouri education.

The newest member of Missouri’s State Board of Education, Kerry Casey, is a Chesterfield resident and a founding member of the board of directors for KIPP charter schools in St. Louis.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed Casey to the state board earlier this month, and she will be sworn in at its next meeting on Dec. 7.

Casey is a vice president at the technology company Exegy. She was on KIPP’s board for 13 years, joining before it opened its first school in 2009 with 50 fifth grade students. KIPP now has more than 2,700 students in five schools.

Casey said she would like to see an expansion of successful charter schools like KIPP in Missouri but clarified, “that's me saying that now.”

“I think the experience of KIPP has been outstanding for those students that have attended,” Casey said. “We have a partnership with St. Louis Public Schools over the years, and I think have shared with St. Louis Public Schools as well, and I think that collaboration is needed across the state.”

St. Louis Public Schools allows KIPP to use two former SLPS schools at no cost. In exchange, KIPP and SLPS share test scores districtwide.

“I think that charter schools bring an important option for students and families and for educators as well,” she said. “I have a common goal, I believe it would be common with all of the educators in Missouri, and that is to bring about access to excellent education for all of the students.”

Casey said her time on KIPP’s board gave her experience working with teachers, principals, students and families. She resigned her position to accept Parson’s appointment.

She said there are two challenges that will define the next year as Missouri schools continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic: the teacher shortage and the education gap that was exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Teacher recruitment, teacher shortages is a big challenge for us,” Casey said. “The impacts of COVID have resulted in, academically, some of our students falling behind, and socially as well.”

The students who have fallen behind have put additional pressure on teachers, Casey said, so policymakers should address the teacher shortage to give instructors more time to focus on students who struggled with virtual learning. She said Missouri’s recent change to the substitute teacher certification process is an important step that she hopes will help more people become substitutes and lessen the staff shortages.

Casey fills the seat of Vic Lenz, who has served on the board since June 2013. Board members serve eight-year terms.

Follow Kate on Twitter: @KGrumke

Kate Grumke covers the environment, climate and agriculture for St. Louis Public Radio and Harvest Public Media.