"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will Students from Failing School Districts be Placed in the New Expanded Classrooms in the Kirkwood School District?

I was sent the following email by a Kirkwood resident concerning a bond proposal (Proposition 1) recently passed in the Kirkwood School District that provided for classroom expansion with a stagnant pupil enrollment:

Friends: Please see below. This law and the court action would allow the State Department of Education to put students from failing schools into school districts with the facilities to hold them.

Since Kirkwood School District has had a low indigenous growth for 10 years but will expand some facilities by 40% where do you think that the state will put the kids from failing school districts? What the voters did, without being told about this recent court decision, was to agree to continue to pay high taxes so that kids from other districts can fill those buildings. The resultant extra costs to educate students from failing districts will end up costing tax payers even more and impact the educational opportunities of Kirkwood kids. The potential for this occurrence was not disclosed by the school board during the last election cycle!

(The following has been pre-filed by Missouri Senator David Pearce):

SB-14 follows a Missouri Supreme Court case, Turner vs. Clayton School District. The case focused on a student who lived in the unaccredited St. Louis School District and wanted to attend school in the affluent Clayton suburb. The court allowed the student to attend the Clayton school; an appeal is pending.

"It would have a huge implication on some of the surrounding districts," Pearce said. The bill would give the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authority to set rules under which one district could accept or reject students from another district.

Pearce said the idea is to prevent a sudden influx of students from one district affecting student-teacher ratios, classroom space and services in another district. Under Turner vs. Clayton, students in one county could attend school in an adjoining county. This means if a Jackson County school lost accreditation, students there could attend Johnson County schools, potentially, Pearce said.

Full article here:


There are several issues raised in this action:

  • The question of who will pay for these unfunded state mandates (transfer and education of students who are not residents of Kirkwood School District);
  • The power (or no power) for school districts to set policy;
  • How will student test scores from non-accredited districts affect the testing data of KSD resident students? Test scores based on subgrouping (since No Child Left Behind was instituted) means KSD has failed to achieve Annual Yearly Progress educational goals for the past four years;
  • The inaction of the Kirkwood School District to inform citizens about ALL ramifications of its $33 Million expansion.
This is the same district that refuses to allow citizen comments to be part of a public record. When questioned about this practice, the Board responded that this was the method in which the Board chose to operate. When researching the surrounding school district "Board Docs" of school board meetings (Lindbergh, Ladue, Brentwood, Maplewood, Parkway, Rockwood and Clayton), I discovered ALL THESE DISTRICTS ALLOW PUBLIC COMMENT TO BE ON THE RECORD. In fact, the Ladue School District allows citizens to ask questions during the Board meetings.

Kirkwood City Council allows the comments to be on the record. Why don't Kirkwood School District citizens have a voice in the school board meetings? Why is this Board so afraid of transparency? The practice of the KSD Board does not meet industry practice; in fact, it is alone in its silencing of any real questioning or the raising of concerns by citizens.

Kirkwood School District allows public comment BEFORE the meeting is officially started. After public comments are finished, the meeting THEN officially begins which means the comments are NEVER recorded in the minutes. Citizens are NEVER allowed to talk during Board meetings, which ensures no questions are asked of members and placed on the record.

So, Kirkwood citizens, if you are concerned about a influx of non-resident students in your schools after the classroom expansion occurs and how this will be funded, you can ask your question at a Board meeting. You won't receive an answer that evening and the answer from the Board will never be publicized. Your tax dollars are being spent by a Board who doesn't care about your opinion or your concerns. You have effectively been silenced. It might be better to follow the progress of SB-14 through your state senator and representative. The School Board doesn't seem to be responsive to citizen concerns. I hope you receive a more thorough and thoughtful response from your legislator.

How does your local school board operate? Is your Board more transparent than the Kirkwood School District board? If you are in a district that may be impacted by this Missouri Supreme Court case, I would like to know what response you receive to any concerns you raise with your district.


  1. This is EXTREME misinformation.

    The KSD elementary population HAS risen, since the 1930s, when these buildings that will have classroom space added were built!

    Going back only ten years is absurd!

    Take a TOUR of these elementary schools and see for yourself.

    Students meet in hallways and makeshift "classrooms" that are actually closets because there is NOT enough classrooms!

    Students eat lunch in the EXTREMELY small cafeteria from 10:30 am thru 1:40 pm. Unacceptable.

    These necessary upgrades and additions are much applauded by the families that are at these schools. The majority of the vocal opposition to Prop 1 no longer have students in these schools, so they do not see the real need that the families that have been there in the last 10 years.

  2. First of all, your information is simply wrong. KSD has shut down 4 schools since the 1980's due to a declining enrollments. Rose Hill, Osage, Turner, and Pitman are all gone. There is no overcrowding and there are fewer students. My HS class had 530 students in the late 70's. The 2010 class had 405 graduating seniors.

    Now, since we have extra seats we will have to pay for non-district students. Furthermore, who is going to foot the bill for the extra teachers, aides, desks and everthing else?

  3. The student population is stagnant. That is not in dispute based on the information from the district. The argument raised in this article had nothing to do whether or not the space was needed; the argument centered around the stagnant population numbers and the fact that the proposal increased the physical buildings by 40%. This is not misinformation. In fact, if you look at the numbers, the student population was at its height in the mid 1960's and 70's when the total KSD enrollment was 10,000. Enrollment today stands at 5,000.

    I believe many people against Prop 1 were not against improvements at the schools; they were against the extent of the projects. Many proponents of Props 1 and 2 believe asking questions regarding finance, necessity of improvements, and ramifications of spending (i.e., will there be a tax increase to cover the increased maintenance/support needed with expanded facilities) are regressive; I happen to believe asking those questions are a civil right and should be answered in a truthful way, rather than labeling those citizens as being "untruthful", "unknowing", or "misinformed".

    If Kirkwood schools are deemed to have extra space, and if the Missouri Supreme Court decision is upheld, KSD will be forced to take transfer students from failing districts. Taxpayers and citizens need to understand the law and the possible ramifications of the expansion of these schools.

    KSD receives payment for Voluntary Transfer Students BUT NOT FOR THE FULL AMOUNT we allot a KSD resident student. How will this new decision affect KSD taxpayers and the budget? We are deficit spending currently and this is an important matter to ask the Board.

    Citizens could have access to this information if true discourse was allowed on the record at school board meetings. Perhaps you should be asking yourself why citizen comments are not recorded by this Board. What is the reason? ALL the surrounding school districts allow public comments and questions. Why does the Board not want to hold itself accountable to ALL citizen input?


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