Mo. to shut down St. Louis area school district - KMOV.com

Mo. to shut down St. Louis area school district

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri education officials decided Thursday to shut down a St. Louis area school district that has struggled for years with poor academic performance and finances.

The Wellston School District will close after the end of the current school year and merge with the nearby Normandy School District. Wellston has about 500 students in grades K-12, compared with about 5,000 in the Normandy schools.

Wellston lost its state accreditation in 2003 and has been run for the past several years by a state-appointed administrative board. There was no dissent during Thursday's closure vote by the State Board of Education.

Officials at the Wellston School District declined to comment Thursday, referring questions to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Although the district's graduation rate had risen somewhat, it posted little academic improvement since losing its accreditation, state education officials said. The school system's financial base also remained weak, the state said, and its facilities are in need of repair.

After the merger, the Normandy school system will assume control of Wellston's five buildings and decide whether to continue using them. The 137 staff members of the Wellston School District will lose their jobs as of June 30 but could apply for positions in the Normandy district.

Wellston high school students will continue to follow their existing graduation requirements after transferring to Normandy. But incoming ninth graders will start abiding by Normandy's standards.

Wellston is the second Missouri school district to be closed in recent years for failing to meet state standards. The Wyaconda district in rural northeast Missouri closed in 2008. It had only about 35 students in grades K-8.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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