Less Dollars From the State--More Help From the Parents: Dr. Chappelow Q & A, Part 2
Dr. Chappelow concludes the interview with a focus on the school year ahead.
Part 2 of the periodic discussion with Ladue's Superintendent Dr. Marsha Chappelow. Dr. Chappelow wants to close the African-American learning gap and jump start key initiatives.
Patch: What initiatives will the school board address this year.
Chappelow: I think it is important for people to realize that just because we don’t have a bond levy, and we won’t be making major budget reductions, we still have a lot of things we want to accomplish.
We are pulling out a lot of projects we had put on hold. This an operational year.
All of these initiatives are under our strategic plan. We are going to increase our efforts to eliminate our education gap with our African-American students. There will be an action committee, K-12th. We’ve done a better job of collecting that data. Now we need to see what we have to do. We are going to get serious about action with that committee.
We will continue to look at our 21st century high school. We want to create programming to connect to our master plan and it looks like a high school (upgrade) will be our next bond issue.
We want to get our programs in alignment so we will know what kinds of facilities we will need going forward.
The other thing connected to that and we’re still continuing to explore is the one to one technology initiative. (lap top computers for all students). Our board approved for us to go forward and look at that in cost savings and we may have to do some private funding for that program.
While speaking of funding, while Prop 1 helped us, it is not going to solve all of our problems and it still all depends upon the economy. Property values are still down. We have to monitor our operational funds the next three-four years closely.
A lot of districts will schedule their bond and levy elections. We’ve been asked by a lot of parents to do that. Our residents want to know what’s on the horizon and when.
We are still finishing up the bond projects. We are finishing phase two of the LECC (Ladue early Childhood Center) project. And we are going to prepare to open the fifth grade center and we are looking to sell, or lease the LECC Clayton Road building.
We are still looking at our communications. We are going to try and continue community round table discussions and talk about the future, but not bond or levy issues. We want to talk about what is important for our kids in the future.
We are going to dialogue with our school community on three different occasions.
Lastly, the board is looking to create a communications advisory committee.
We want people with people with a background in communications but we will be looking for people who don’t have (that background) and maybe live in the community but don’t have children in the district or send their children to private schools. We can get all of our stakeholders to take part that way.
Patch: Changing directions, there was extensive discussion about having lights for night competition at the high school. That looks like it is not going to happen.
Chappelow: There has been extensive discussion of how portable lights would serve our purpose. The Dads Club did put in a request to review all of the athletic facilities and see what the athletic complex of the future would look like.
I believe we will give that request to the Facility Planning Committee.
Patch: Would you consider a football stadium complex at the west campus.
Chappelow: That would be a possibility. We have to talk what is the best use of those facilities. We have to look down the road at parking, etc. We already have the Early Childhood Center there.
Patch: The state continues to put the dollar squeeze on education. How does this effect you.
Chappelow: It is more problematic now than in the past because of the current economy. Our assessments are still down and we receive most of our funding from local property owners. Transportation will continue to be a big issue. We only get a small amount (of money) from the state. Most of our operating funds come from property taxes.
Patch: Is there anything we missed asking.
Chappelow: The only thing I would add is, even though we are happy we passed Prop 1, we will have to continue looking closely at the budget and reassess our programs and prioritize and focus on what are the needs of students and what we need to do to educate them to go forward with their future.