In 2017, St. Louis Public Schools achieved what many thought was impossible–a return to full state accreditation after a decade of declining outcomes, resources, and population. Unpacking a history of contextual challenges that contributed to the district’s struggles, this case reviews key leadership decisions made by then-new superintendent Kelvin Adams as he led the district through a state-led oversight effort designed to turn around the system. In particular, the case highlights:
- the superintendent’s choices of key levers of change given the structural challenges faced by the district, especially related to building a culture of decision-making informed by data, increasing the operational efficiency, and taking programmatic and personnel actions at the school-level
- the unique role of the governance authority in supporting and embedding the superintendent’s reforms
The case concludes by presenting issues to consider as the district returns to its original form of elected governance and attempts to sustain existing successes even as it confronts additional, long-standing challenges.
Subject: K-12, Governance
Setting: St. Louis Public Schools
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