Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Catholic Schools Serve as Model, Mayor Says Bosley Says City System Could Learn Efficiency

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Catholic Schools Serve as Model, Mayor Says Bosley Says City System Could Learn Efficiency

Article excerpt

St. Louis Mayor Freeman R. Bosley Jr. says city schools can take a lesson in leaner and better management from the Catholic schools.

"There is waste, and things could be more efficient," he said.

Earlier this month, the city School Board passed a three-page resolution with a challenge for City Hall to help make schools better in three areas. They asked Bosley to:

Appoint a task force to consider abolishing some tax abatements.

Make schools, buses and neighborhoods safer.

Improve cooperation between the School Board and the mayor.

"The Board of Education is looking to city government to establish formal partnership to find ways to assure that children of this city are healthy, safe and ready for school," the resolution read.

The resolution insulted Bosley, who called the document "misguided and erroneous." He responded with a letter made public Monday.

In that letter, Bosley told the School Board that the schools don't necessarily require more money - they require better management.

"It is an issue of what the board does with those funds, how it is spent and who is accountable," wrote Bosley.

The School Board president, the Rev. Earl E. Nance Jr., apologized in writing to Bosley for the tone of the resolution. He called the mayor "one of the best friends of the school system."

For the moment, the political crossfire has ceased between City Hall and the School Board.

But Bosley continues to look at the Catholic school system for ideas.

The school systems share the basic mission of teaching large numbers of children in preschool through high school. The Catholic parish and Archdiocesan schools educate 59,303 students in the city of St. Louis and 10 surrounding Missouri counties, not including 15 independent Catholic schools. City schools educate 43,619 students.

The Catholics' ability to operate with a small, efficient staff of administrators caught the mayor's attention.

City schools spend an average of $8,334 a year to educate each student based on average daily attendance. That is almost four times what the Catholic schools spend.

The city has 300 administrators. The Catholic system has 11.

Bosley began to look more closely at the Catholic schools as a model after he saw how school uniforms seemed to reduce crime in schools, increase attendance and promote school spirit. Bosley also saw the Catholic schools working "smarter."

"They had found innovative ways to approach some of the same problems as public schools face," said Pat Washington, an aide to the mayor.

On Monday, Nance considered the mayor's suggestion to study Catholic schools.

"Catholic schools learn from us, and we learn from them," he said. …

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