The Ladue School District Board of Education took favorable action on proposed high school course additions for the 2012-13 school year. It was, however, not without major blowback from one board member Jeff Kopolow.
Kopolow, longtime social studies teacher at Ladue Horton Watkins Senior High School, now retired, went back and forth with Donna Jahnke, assistant superintendent for curriculum development and high school principal Bridget Hermann.
Koplow is concerned with the costs of new programs and the ability to fit these programs into a new budget. He’s wondering how these programs will be paid for should the tax levy on the ballot next April fail.
Jahnke said the district has allocated funds for new progams and believes there is adequate staff to maintain these new courses and programs.
Essentially, programs will be geared to few students and will concentrate in helping three groups of them: at-risk students, students seeking further education in engineering and students seeking further education in biosciences.
Ladue high school maintains a standard of mainly offering courses where 12 or more students are enrolled. There are cases where at-risk students are in very small classrooms, sharing two teachers at a time. The numbers fall way below 12.
“We offer courses for struggling students in algebra one and two, and we leave it up to departments to determine the size of classrooms,” Hermann said.
“I am concerned with tight budgets that we may be teaching the few at the expense of the many,” said Kopolow. In some cases, upper classrooms are filled with 30 or more students.
Hermann said in light of where the economy is, staff is constantly seeking outside grants to maintain some of these specialty courses. Koplow doesn't want to be dependent upon grants.
Districts such as Lindbergh, Kirkwood, Pattonville, Parkway and Rockwood have offered a wide variety of engineering-based classes for 20 or more years. In a sense, Ladue is doing some catching up.
"We're about 10 years behind those districts," Kopolow said.
“We are simply trying to offer a rigorous curriculum in the field of engineering,” Jahnke said.
The board approved funding the program by a voice vote of 6-0.
At the regular board meeting, the members of the board of education presented their annual Friends of Education awards to outside members of the community.
The first set of awards went to a trio of administrators from Westminster Christian Academy, all very helpful in making the transition of ownership of the property on Ladue Road west of Spoede Road a very smooth one.
Recognized with apple awards were Headmaster Jim Marsh, Director of Advancement Zach Clark and Chief Financial Officer Todd Fuller.
At the same time, the district made an award presentation to Jim Morrison, longtime volunteer in the district. Morrison has served as a finance chair and served on the strategic planning, insurance advisory and the budget task force.
The board also recognized parent volunteer Linda Rater who began her work with the Spoede School PTA and continued serving on middle and high school committees.
In another move, the school board officially changed the name of the new location to the West Campus Ladue School District.
“We won’t be called the Westminster campus anymore,” Superintendent Marsha Chappelow said.