7 on ballot for two seats on school board

7 on ballot for two seats on school board

Seven candidates are running for two positions on the elected St. Louis Board of Education in the April 2 general election. 

The names of Adam Layne, David Merideth, Louis Clinton Cross III, Barbara Anderson, William “Bill” Haas, Tracee A. Miller and Dan McCready appear on the ballot. 

The elected board lost most of its power after the school district lost its accreditation. But now that the district has regained its accreditation, the board may get back its power.  

The winning candidates will get four-year terms. 

Here is information about the candidates, in the order their names appear on the ballot; 

Adam Layne, 30, of the Lewis Place neighborhood, said he wants “to renew our commitment to quality by ensuring every school option is a quality option for all students in the city,” Layne said. “This means quality and supportive teachers, knowledgeable and caring staff, well-resourced and autonomous buildings, and meaningful enrichment for students and families.’ 

Layne also said he wants to push for financial transparency in budgeting and spending.   Money should be allocated in an equitable manner, he said. In addition, he wants to build advocacy among teachers and students.  

Layne wants to develop strong sources for quality teachers of color for the district.   

David W. Merideth, 46, of the Lafayette Square neighborhood, grew up in this area and has 11 children. The retired military officer and real estate agent spends much of his time working with parent organizations. 

“I think we need to find a way to put a nurse, a social worker, in every building,” he said. 

He’d also like to reduce the number of starting times at schools. He wants to cut the number of high school starting times from three to two.   

In addition, Merideth wants to work toward rebuilding neighborhood schools. The district has relied too much on magnet schools, Merideth said.  

Barbara A. Anderson, 66, of the North Point Neighborhood, is the retired principal of Lexington Elementary School, a city school.  

“I am concerned about the declining enrollment of the St. Louis Public Schools,” she said.  

The drop is diminishing the resources available for neighborhood schools, Anderson said. “My concern is making sure that every single classroom in the city of St. Louis has a highly qualified teacher (and that) every student has access to all resources, including technology,” she said. 

Problems include discipline and the tendency to label too many children as special needs, she believes. The district also will have the repair its tattered image, she said.  

Louis Clinton Cross III, 71, of the Penrose Park neighborhood, spent more than 30 years as a St. Louis Public Schools instructor, was a teachers’ union representative and was principal of a charter school. 

All children should have books and laptops, Cross said. The district should have a program to ensure high school students are ready for jobs, should teach phonics and should have a strong math program, he said. Cross said he believes the district should attract qualified instructors and staff members with competitive salaries.  

Charter schools are here to stay, Cross said. “The main concern is that we become a level playing field,” he said.  

William “Bill” Haas, 74, served on the board from 1997 to 2005 and from 2010 to 2018.    

“I’m going to keep running until all are kids are reading at grade level by third grade, not half, ” said Haas, who lives in the Central West End.   

Haas noted problems including the rising number of suicides and the lack of sleep among young people. 

Other issues Haas mentioned include reading scores, sex and health education, more computer programming and having graduates ready for further education. He’d like to end tax abatements and tax increment financing, which he said cost the district much tax revenue. 

Tracee A. Miller, 35, of the Benton Park neighborhood, said education is a human right that is being denied to students in the community. 

“We must address the district’s current financial mismanagement and administrative dereliction to better support our schools, especially our teachers and students,” Miller said.   

Miller, a former St. Louis Public Schools teacher, said she wants to fight to support teachers by providing the resources and pay they need to do their jobs well. 

Miller doesn’t believe charter schools are the answer, but she said they can provide helpful resources to the city.  

One candidate on the ballot, Daniel W. McReady, could not be reached. Other candidates said he wasn’t campaigning.