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Is state takeover of SLPS winding to a close?

William Danforth and Frankie Freeman
William Danforth and Frankie Freeman

By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – The state is taking steps to evaluate the St. Louis Public Schools to see if and when the district could revert to local control.

Commissioner Chris Nicastro is turning to the panel that filed the initial report back in 2006, which found that the state's largest public district was foundering amid plummeting test scores, a looming financial crisis and ongoing board dysfunction.

The five-member panel will again be chaired by former Washington University Chancellor William Danforth, 85, and civil rights attorney Frankie Freeman, 90.

Nicastro says it's time to start assessing the district's progress and how it might revert back to some form of local control.

"This group is going to determine, first of all what the transition might look like, and what would be the factors that would be used in launching that transition," said Nicastro. "Right now we don't have any measures for determining when a transition might begin."

The commissioner also notes that it's still too early to know what precise criteria will guide the panel's decision.

"Obviously there would need to be significant academic and financial progress prior to transitioning the current situation into anything more permanent," Nicastro said. "What those look like and what those measures might be is something we're asking the committee to advise us."

Nicastro has asked the committee to complete their recommendations by next fall.

The panel will hold public meetings, which will be announced on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.