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State board of education votes for transitional school board

By Adam Allington, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The State Board of Education voted 5-2 on Thursday in favor of establishing a transitional school board for St. Louis Public Schools.

Reaction to the states decision has been mixed, with some groups welcoming intervention, others are threatening law suits.

St. Louis mayor Francis Slay and Aldermanic president Jim Shrewsbury have 30 days to nominate appointees to the transitional board. After 30 days if the state revokes the school districts provisional accreditation governor Matt Blunt will appointee a third member.

Mayor Slay says he has several candidates in mind; high on his list are candidates who understand organizational finance and the role of a CEO.

"I haven't made a decision," says Slay. "There are some I'm considering and I will tell you I am looking for people who will put the kids first and will not be intimidated by those adults who are trying to influence outcomes based on their own political or personal agenda's."

For the moment the transitional school board will only serve an advisory role. That will change in the event that the state revokes the school districts provisional accreditation. For the most part, opponents of a takeover are not optimistic, they see a transitional board as just the next step toward outside control of the district.

"I see their decision as being a step toward a state takeover." Peter Downs is a member of the current St. Louis School Board. "An advisor panel is fine, I think we're all open to advice from DESE, it's frustrating that they haven't given any. Not once have they come to the board and said, this is what we think you need to do to improve education in children.'"

As the state moves closer to intervention, accreditation becomes the next battleground.

Bob Archibald is a member of the St. Louis Public School Board who is in favor of dissolving the board his sits on.

"We can debate accreditation points and the merits or lack of merit but there's nothing about that that changes the outcomes for kids and the outcomes for children are abysmal and have been for some time."

The earliest the state is expected to vote on accreditation is at their next meeting on March 22nd. The state has given the school district until February 28th to provide information proving that they are on the right track toward improving their accreditation rating.