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  • They love the city, but not the schools.

    We've discussed this issue before, but now the paper has run a feature article about how many young professional people are facing tough decisions, when it comes to staying in the city once their kids become school aged.


    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...6?OpenDocument



    They love the city, but not the schools.
    By Nancy Cambria
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/25/2008


    ST. LOUIS — The 1885 Lafayette Square row house was pretty from the street, but when Stacy Bragg, six months pregnant, saw the big yard and the modern interior, she was hooked.

    "It was perfect in every way," she said. "We just fell in love immediately."

    And so began the blissful romance that Stacy and her husband, Doug Bragg, had with their $192,000 home — and city living: bike rides to the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, the coffee shop across the alley, the diversity, the group of friends that put "CITY" stickers on their cars and started a mini baby boom.

    But that romance has been put to the test because of doubts about the city public school system. The Braggs and others aren't sure they can afford to stay, because they've decided appropriate schooling comes with a crippling expense. Last month, the Braggs opened the acceptance letter for their daughter, now 4, to the Forsyth School, a private school with a tuition equaling a monthly mortgage payment.

    "I just thought that was crazily ridiculous. I went right to realtor.com," said Stacy Bragg, who grew up in Clayton. "I started looking to move."

    Spring is the time when young families decide where their children will go to school. Many in well-regarded districts simply sign their kids up for kindergarten. Others sell their starter homes for pricier houses in better school districts.

    But for families committed to St. Louis city, these months can be difficult because they can carry financial or emotional costs: private school with tuitions as high as $15,000 a year, or schooling options that haven't panned out or met their expectations.

    Robbyn Wahby, the educational liaison for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said those families' problem is also a city problem. This group, which contributed to the city's first population gain in decades in neighborhoods like Shaw, Tower Grove, South Grand, Soulard and Lafayette Square, won't grow unless the schools issue is resolved for the middle class.

    "We can't continue to see this kind of growth pattern without good, affordable schools," Wahby said.

    LUCK OF THE DRAW

    Many parents, like the Braggs, had hoped to get their kids into the city's prized gifted magnet schools or sought-after preschools — schools like Kennard Classical Junior Academy or Stix Early Childhood Center. But they were rejected or lost out in an enrollment lottery. Others were put on a waiting list at neighborhood parochial schools. And some were passed over everywhere, causing them to put off kindergarten.

    The St. Louis Public School District currently meets only two of 14 state performance standards and has been struggling with plummeting enrollment, school closings, infighting and leadership turnover.

    The majority of the students who remain in the district are from poor African-American families. Last year, the district lost its accreditation, and its elected board was replaced with a state-appointed one.

    Though the city has 15 charter schools with 7,700 students, most are performing only slightly above public schools.

    The Braggs, whose daughter was passed over by Kennard and put on a waiting list at St. Margaret of Scotland School, said they felt they had no viable choice but to struggle to pay for private school. Stacy Bragg owns an occupational therapy business, and Doug manages the downtown Flamingo Bowl.

    "I think that your public school should be able to offer you something at least that is appropriate," Stacy Bragg said.

    Others are reluctantly heading back to the suburbs.

    "The city school district had lost its accreditation," said Mia Levine, a Tower Grove East resident with two young children who has put her restored row house up for sale with plans to move into the Ladue School District. "We had to ask, what does that mean? In my mind, why would I send my kids to a public school without accreditation?"

    RACE AND CLASS

    The school issue is touchy among pro-city dwellers who pledged to roll back the white and suburban flight that emptied out city neighborhoods for decades. Many who belonged to Metropolis St. Louis — a pro-city group — said they were aware of the school issue when they moved to the city, but didn't understand that gambling on a house in a transitional neighborhood would be easier than taking a risk on city public schools.

    Some, like Claralynn and Matt Bollinger, who are white, argue that newer residents have an obligation to give the city school system a try. The Bollingers said the district allowed them to pick any non-magnet neighborhood school for their preschooler. That enabled them to enroll her in the Meda P. Washington School, a school they've found satisfactory.

    "There are beacons of hope all over the place, and probably way more than anyone would realize without looking at it," Matt Bollinger said of the district.

    That opinion is complicated, because some families, both white and black, are given the option of district magnet schools, while others are not.

    "If we're having people move back into the city, somehow we need to put our children in the schools and get them involved to get things changed," said Tracie Goffe, who is black and has a child at Kennard. "But at the same time, nobody wants to sacrifice their kid to a bad school district. It's definitely a quandary."

    The lack of options and frustration with a magnet system that's not big enough or inclusive enough vex Brooke Roseberry, another Metropolis founder, who is white. Roseberry is a former lawyer who worked under Slay's Neighborhood Life Initiative.

    "I would hear so many people say, 'I'm moving because of the school,' and I would think, 'You're an elitist, you're a racist,'" she said .

    But she said as a parent she now understands.

    "I realized that people with kids weren't leaving in droves because they couldn't walk the walk, but because the forces were geared up against them, and the systems in place were just constantly pushing people out."

    STAY OR GO?

    Wahby, with the mayor's office, said new families rightly deserve more for their tax dollars.

    "This isn't a white thing or a black thing. This is a family issue," she said.

    This group, along with empty nesters and singles, has contributed to a 400-person increase in the city's population after years of decline, said Brady Baybeck, director of the Program in Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

    This growth came despite the fact that St. Louis Public Schools enrollment fell from about 42,000 to 28,000 in the past eight years. Although demographers can't fully trace where these city school kids went, city officials assume half went to charter schools.

    Wahby said many families, particularly in northern city neighborhoods, have moved into St. Louis County. In the Hazelwood school district, enrollment jumped by 2,600 students this year, with 22 percent formerly from St. Louis city, an administrator said.

    Lifelong city resident Heather Buckley-Williams said her family will likely be one of these suburban transplants if her twins don't get into a magnet school.

    "The city schools are crumbling," she said. "I love the area where I live, but you've got to make sacrifices for the kids."

    Slay is placing his bets on charter schools. He's formed a support network to create as many as 30 new charter schools in 10 years.

    Melanie Adams, a member of the new state-appointed St. Louis Public School Board, said parents are overlooking viable public school options. She said a pending master plan for the district will yield quality options for parents and their children throughout the district.

    "The district didn't get this way overnight, and it's not going to get worked out overnight," she said. "I know that's a hard thing to tell people."

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    Make America Great For Once.

  • #2
    But the city is up and coming! The schools are not?!?! AHHHHHHH!!
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    • #3
      Enrollment has fallen from 42,000 to 28,000 in 8 years? Thats pretty alarming. Especially if the city has gained population or stayed close to the same over that time.
      “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

      Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Razzy View Post
        Enrollment has fallen from 42,000 to 28,000 in 8 years? Thats pretty alarming. Especially if the city has gained population or stayed close to the same over that time.
        I am not sure the numbers but the people that I know that moved to the city do not have kids. But some of those have said that should they have kids they would not go to city schools.
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        Kolten Wong & the arch in the outfield grass at Busch Stadium
        5-29-14-House77 turns down offer of free beer from me

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Guppy View Post
          I am not sure the numbers but the people that I know that moved to the city do not have kids. But some of those have said that should they have kids they would not go to city schools.
          For comparisons sake, Springfield schools have a total of 24,000 enrolled, and the population of Springfield is less than half of St Louis's. But Springfield population and school enrollment has hit a plateau, and both have actually decreased a bit in recent years.

          Just like in St Louis, people here are moving to the surrounding cities. Especially families.
          “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

          Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Razzy View Post
            For comparisons sake, Springfield schools have a total of 24,000 enrolled, and the population of Springfield is less than half of St Louis's. But Springfield population and school enrollment has hit a plateau, and both have actually decreased a bit in recent years.

            Just like in St Louis, people here are moving to the surrounding cities. Especially families.
            The luck of it all is that people can have a choice where they want their kids to go no matter if it is a public or private school. Granted that would mean moving to an area for the public school though. Back in my day in Columbia, we did not have an option as to where we could go. There were about a dozen grade schools (k-6), three jr high schools (7-9), and two high schools (10-12). All public. There was one private school (catholic school) that was grade k-8. If you wanted to go to a private HS, you had to travel to Jeff City.
            Sponsor of:
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            Kolten Wong & the arch in the outfield grass at Busch Stadium
            5-29-14-House77 turns down offer of free beer from me

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Guppy View Post
              The luck of it all is that people can have a choice where they want their kids to go no matter if it is a public or private school. Granted that would mean moving to an area for the public school though. Back in my day in Columbia, we did not have an option as to where we could go. There were about a dozen grade schools (k-6), three jr high schools (7-9), and two high schools (10-12). All public. There was one private school (catholic school) that was grade k-8. If you wanted to go to a private HS, you had to travel to Jeff City.
              Here in Springfield, you can send your kid to any school you want to. The only caveat is that you have to fill out a transfer student form and there has to be room in that school for the student wanting to transfer. Some schools - particularly some elementary schools on the growing southwest side of the district - have overcrowding problems and wont take any transfer students. But I'm pretty sure that a high school kid can go to any of the 5 high schools here that he/she wants to, as long as there is room.

              We dont have charter schools here, and there are not many private schools. There is a Catholic high school and some other small school called Greenwood that is pretty ritzy, I guess. And one or two private Christian elementary schools.
              “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

              Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Razzy View Post
                For comparisons sake, Springfield schools have a total of 24,000 enrolled, and the population of Springfield is less than half of St Louis's. But Springfield population and school enrollment has hit a plateau, and both have actually decreased a bit in recent years.

                Just like in St Louis, people here are moving to the surrounding cities. Especially families.
                "White Flight" from the 3% black population?
                Make America Great For Once.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bleacher Creature View Post
                  "White Flight" from the 3% black population?
                  Haha, I like to call it "Conservative Family Flight". The people moving to the outlying areas like Nixa, Republic, and Ozark are mostly conservative families. The city is getting too liberal for them, apparently. I mean, we have bars and nightclubs downtown, two liberal universities, a smattering of black and brown people, and the only Democratic congressional district in all of SW Missouri. Its horrible here for those folks.
                  “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

                  Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Razzy View Post
                    Haha, I like to call it "Conservative Family Flight". The people moving to the outlying areas like Nixa, Republic, and Ozark are mostly conservative families. The city is getting too liberal for them, apparently. I mean, we have bars and nightclubs downtown, two liberal universities, a smattering of black and brown people, and the only Democratic congressional district in all of SW Missouri. Its horrible here for those folks.
                    They're moving to Ozark to be closer to Lambert's.
                    Make America Great For Once.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Razzy View Post
                      Here in Springfield, you can send your kid to any school you want to. The only caveat is that you have to fill out a transfer student form and there has to be room in that school for the student wanting to transfer. Some schools - particularly some elementary schools on the growing southwest side of the district - have overcrowding problems and wont take any transfer students. But I'm pretty sure that a high school kid can go to any of the 5 high schools here that he/she wants to, as long as there is room.

                      We dont have charter schools here, and there are not many private schools. There is a Catholic high school and some other small school called Greenwood that is pretty ritzy, I guess. And one or two private Christian elementary schools.
                      When it came to high schools in Columbia, most kids could go where they wanted to as well. Most went to one or the other for sports reasons. There is talk about building another high school in the northern part of town as well as a catholic high school. Columbia has been growing that even the new schools have trailers.

                      Is Central still open in Springfield? My grandfather went there so that is why I ask.
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                      Kolten Wong & the arch in the outfield grass at Busch Stadium
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                      • #12
                        Yeah, Central is still open. They have remodeled it and it looks real nice. Its not a bad school at all, they have some good programs there, but it suffers a bit in reputation because most of the people who go there are not well-off, and they rarely do well in sports.
                        “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

                        Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Razzy View Post
                          Haha, I like to call it "Conservative Family Flight". The people moving to the outlying areas like Nixa, Republic, and Ozark are mostly conservative families. The city is getting too liberal for them, apparently. I mean, we have bars and nightclubs downtown, two liberal universities, a smattering of black and brown people, and the only Democratic congressional district in all of SW Missouri. Its horrible here for those folks.
                          Forgot to mention that we also have titty bars
                          “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

                          Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Razzy View Post
                            Forgot to mention that we also have titty bars
                            Last time I was in Springfield we went to a titty bar that let you bring your own cooler in. I think you had to pay $10 at the door but that was it.
                            Official sponsor of Mike Shannon's Retirement Party

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ElviswasaBluesFan View Post
                              Last time I was in Springfield we went to a titty bar that let you bring your own cooler in. I think you had to pay $10 at the door but that was it.
                              Illusions?
                              “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

                              Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

                              Comment

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