St. Charles School District

Let them eat...zucchini?

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With the attention paid to our nation’s pathetic eating habits and the Obama’s organic garden, now seems to be a good time for the St. Louis area school districts to vastly improve their school lunches. Maplewood Richmond-Heights is in front of the “Race to the Top”, in terms of lunches anyway, as it implements its Healthy Eating with Local Produce grant in conjunction with St. Louis University.

"The kitchen staff has reshaped menus and already ordered their produce from the farmers in the Missouri Farmers' Union," superintendent Henke said. "Some of our high school students will have summer jobs helping process the foods this summer." (Gardening Teaches, Suburban Journals, 2 June 09)

This is in sharp contrast to most of the area school districts. Yes, they may offer some fresh fruit and vegetables at a food bar, a recent and welcome addition, but the overall menu is still weak.

Here’s a typical week’s menu. This one is for elementary schools from one week in May from Kirkwood school district, which uses Chartwells.

Here’s a menu from Chef Ann Cooper’s elementary menu (pdf). A daily menu might be chicken or veggie quesadilla, rice and beans, salad bar, 1% milk, fresh fruit.


Like Maplewood, Kirkwood, U City, Ferguson-Florissant, St. Charles and Clayton have farmer’s markets within their borders. Let’s step up to the plate, schools.

White Flight? Let's look at those test scores

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed an interesting article on white flight affecting the Hazelwood School District. The Libertarian-styled think-tank Show-Me Center's education blogger, Sarah Brodsky, responded that maybe people were leaving the district because of state test scores.

❝The whites may be moving to districts that do better than Hazelwood on the state tests.❞

So I looked up the state test scores. Most of the population shift has been to St. Charles, so that was my comparison.

St. Charles
Comm 49.4 met 2 of 7 targets
Math 49.4 met 2 of 7 targets
Graduation rate 81.3

Comm 34 met 2 of 8 targets
Math 30.2 met 4 of 9 targets
Graduation rate 83.9
District improvement level 1

Hazelwood West
Comm. 43.2
Math 33.9

While people in St. Louis are a bit jaded on the whole AYP since even the wealthy districts can't meet all their targets, neither of these districts have numbers to brag about. (Although in fairness, they could also be much worse.) Yes, St. Charles has higher scores than Hazelwood, but I don't see that they justify mass movement. If you look at Hazelwood West's scores, the focus school of the article, they are closer especially in reading. I suspect other factors are in play.