St. Joseph School District, Missouri

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St. Joseph School District
St. Joseph, Missouri
St. Joseph School District logo.png
District Profile
Superintendent:Dr. Fred Czerwonka
Enrollment:11,377 students[1]
Graduation rate:82.5 percent[2]
Number of schools:23
Budget: $132.5 million
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Brad Haggard
Board members:7
Term length:6
St. Joseph School District is a school district in Missouri that served 11,377 K-12 students during the 2012-2013 school year.[1] The residents of St. Joseph created a public school district in 1860 to meet the educational needs of a growing population. Three schools were opened by April 1861 but the American Civil War forced their closure until 1864. The district has grown from a trio of schools serving 2,800 students in 1865 to a 23-school district serving more than 11,000 students in 2012.[3]

The district is currently under state and federal investigations due to potentially illegal accounting and hiring practices by district administrators. For more information on this story, read our original investigative report: Stipend scandal erupts in St. Joseph, Missouri.

About the district

St. Joseph School District is located in Buchanan County, Missouri
St. Joseph School District is located in St. Joseph, the county seat of Buchanan County, Missouri St. Joseph is home to 77,147, according to the United States Census Bureau.[4] St. Joseph School District is the 17th-largest school district in Missouri.

Demographics

Higher education achievement

St. Joseph underperformed in comparison to the rest of Missouri in terms of higher education attainment. The 2010 U.S. Census found that 20.4 percent of St. Joseph residents over 25 years old held undergraduate degrees compared to a 25.8 percent rate for the state of Missouri.[4]

Median household income

St. Joseph had a median income of $42,248 in 2010 compared to $47,333 for Missouri.[4]

Poverty rate

The poverty rate for St. Joseph was 18.4 percent in 2010 compared to a 10.5 percent rate for the entire state.[4]

Racial Demographics, 2010[4]
Race St. Joseph (%) Missouri (%)
White 87.8 82.8
Black or African American 6.0 11.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.5 0.5
Asian 0.9 1.6
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.2 0.1
Two or More Races 2.7 2.1
Hispanic or Latino 5.7 3.5

Presidential votes, 2000-2012[5]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 44.4 53.2
2008 49.1 48.9
2004 46.9 52.2
2000 49.2 47.3

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100.0%. Each column will add up to 100.0% after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages.[6]

Superintendent

Superintendent Fred Czerwonka

The superintendent of St. Joseph School District is Dr. Fred Czerwonka. He has served in the position since his appointment in July 2013. He previously served as the superintendent of West Plains School District. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Freed Hardeman University and a doctorate from Saint Louis University. His annual base salary was $190,000 plus a $12,000 annuity during the 2013-2014 school year.[7][8]

Czerwonka's tenure as superintendent has generated controversy due to his extensive use of stipends to reward administrators, which earned him the nickname "The Candy Man" within the district. At an April 2014 board meeting, Czerwonka acknowledged that the use of the stipends without board knowledge or approval created a "massive mess," but he also defended the stipends as necessary for talent retention and morale improvement within the district administration.

School board

The St. Joseph Board of Education consists of seven members who are elected at-large to six-year terms. Each member can only serve two six-year terms, according to district policy.[9]

St. Joseph Board of Education
Member Position Assumed Office Term Ends
Brad Haggard President 2010 2016
Martin Rucker Vice President 2012 2018
Dan Colgan Member 2010 2016
Chris Danford Member 2012 2018
Kappy Hodges Member 2014 2020
Dennis Snethen Member 2006 2018
Lori Prussman Member 2014 2020

Code of ethics

The board requires members to comply with the following code of ethics, which was last updated in 2006:

Members of the St. Joseph School District Board of Education accept the responsibility to improve public education in the St. Joseph School District. To that end, all Board members will:

1. Remember that the first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of all students attending the public schools.

2. Obey the laws of Missouri and the United States.

3. Recognize that individual Board members have no authority to speak or act for the Board.

4. Work with other Board members to establish effective Board policies.

5. Delegate authority for the administration of the schools to the superintendent.

6. Encourage ongoing communications between Board members and stakeholders.

7. Render all decisions based on the available facts and independent judgment rather than succumbing to the influence of individuals or special interest groups.

8. Make every effort to attend all Board meetings (Regular and assigned committee).

9. Become informed concerning the issues to be considered at each meeting.

10. Improve Boardmanship by studying educational issues and by participating in in-service programs and training.

11. Support the employment of staff members based on qualifications and not as a result of influence.

12. Maintain a process of regular and systematic assessment of the educational system, in order to provide accountability for the school district.

13. Avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof.

14. Refrain from using their Board position for the benefit of family members, business associates or themselves.

15. Express personal opinions but, once the Board has acted, accept the will of the majority.

[10]

—St. Joseph School District's website, (2014), [11]

School board elections

See also: St. Joseph School District elections (2014)

Members of the St. Joseph Board of Education are elected to six-year terms on a staggered basis. Two seats were up for election in April 2014, two seats will be on the ballot in April 2016 and three seats will be up for election in April 2018.

Public participation in board meetings

The board maintains the following policy regarding public participation in board meetings last revised in 2006:

To provide for full and open communication between the public and the Board of Education, the Board authorizes the following avenues for the exchange of information, ideas and opinions.

Grievance through Established Policy and Procedure

Students, employees and any members of the public are encouraged to utilize established policies and procedures for offering suggestions or addressing concerns and complaints prior to bringing the issue before the Board. The Board believes that many issues can be resolved by communication with teachers, administrators and other staff and may refuse to address an issue if the individual presenting it has not first attempted to resolve the matter through established procedures and policies.

Written Correspondence

Written correspondence may be directed to the Board, through the superintendent, for consideration at a meeting. Copies of all correspondence directed to the Board will be made available to all Board members. Statements of two (2) pages or less are encouraged.

Agenda Items

Any member of the public who wishes to have an item placed on the agenda will present the request in writing to the superintendent or designee. The request must be submitted pursuant to Board policy and received five (5) business days prior to the scheduled meeting. The item will then be appropriately placed on the agenda. The Board reserves the right to impose reasonable restrictions on the number of items to be considered, the number of spokespersons and the speaking time of spokespersons appearing before the Board. If the meeting agenda is full, the Board reserves the right to reschedule an item for the next regular meeting. The Board may refuse to address an issue that has not gone through the appropriate grievance procedure. The Board reserves the right to waive formalities in emergency situations, within the limitations of the law.

Public Hearings

From time to time, the Board will schedule a public hearing to receive input on matters of concern to the community, such as setting the district's tax rate. The public will be provided notice of such hearings as required by law.

Public Comment
A specifically designated time will be set aside for public comments at regular meetings of the Board of Education. The following rules will be applied to the public comment portion of the meeting:

  • The Board will establish a time limit for the public comment period.
  • No individual will be permitted to speak more than once during this period.
  • The Board will establish a uniform time limit for each speaker.
  • Only items from the posted agenda may be discussed.

[10]

—St. Joseph School District's website, (2014), [12]

Budget

St. Joseph School District's website features the current approved budget and budgets from previous years. The following charts and tables detail the district's revenues and expenditures:[13]

pChart

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Revenues

The district's total revenues increased by 6.9 percent from 2011 to 2013 despite a significant decrease in local revenues as a share of the budget. Property taxes, county aid and other sources of local revenue as a share of the budget declined by 10 percent over the highlighted period. The loss of local revenue sources has been offset by a 3.2 percent increase in state aid and a total of $42 million in other revenue sources in 2012 and 2013.

Revenue by Category
School Year Local Other School Districts State Aid Federal Aid Other Revenue Total
Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue
2011-2012 $63,059,465 51.7% $0 0% $44,289,715 36.3% $14,675,715 12% $0 0% $122,024,895
2012-2013 $65,127,023 41.2% $0 0% $45,494,438 28.8% $14,412,009 9.1% $33,000,000 20.9% $158,033,471
2013-2014 $53,156,787 40.7% $0 0% $45,721,557 35% $12,613,977 9.7% $9,000,000 6.9% $130,492,321
Averages: $60,447,758.33 44% $0 0% $45,168,570 33% $13,900,567 10% $14,000,000 10% $136,850,229

Expenditures

The district's total expenditures increased 19.8 percent from 2011 to 2013 due to rising operational expenses and debt service payments. Operational expenses grew as a share of the district budget by 12.6 percent during the highlighted period. Debt service payments as a share of the budget also increased by 0.4 percent from 2011 to 2013.

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2011-2012 $87,696,483 72.4% $22,947,712 19% $8,611,548 7.1% $3,029,274 2.5% $0 0% $121,051,440
2012-2013 $88,432,968 67.2% $22,947,712 17.4% $16,952,456 12.9% $3,267,783 2.5% $0 0% $131,600,918
2013-2014 $91,470,062 63.1% $20,766,830 14.3% $28,512,434 19.7% $4,276,560 2.9% $0 0% $145,025,886
Averages: $89,199,837.67 67% $22,220,751.33 17% $18,025,479.33 14% $3,524,539 3% $0 0% $132,559,414.67

Teacher salaries

Teachers in the St. Joseph School District earn annual salaries based on years on the job as well as educational achievement. The salary schedule accounts for graduate degrees by providing higher starting salaries and greater potential salaries. The following table details the salary schedule for the 2013-2014 school year:[14]

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
BA 34,200 43,550
BA + 16 35,150 44,475
MA 37,200 54,080
MA + 16 38,500 55,445
MA + 32 39,800 56,880
MA + 48 41,100 58,280

Administrative salaries

In March 2014, school board member Chris Danford noted that at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, $250,000 was paid out by the school district in stipends to administrative personnel without the approval of the school board. Subsequent to the board meeting where these concerns were raised, the chief financial officer of the school district was placed on administrative leave. Unnamed sources told a local newspaper that the FBI had launched an investigation.[15][16]

Schools in St. Joseph School District

Enrollment

St. Joseph School District served 11,377 students during the 2011-2012 school year. The district experienced a 1.2 percent decrease in enrollment between 2007 and 2012. The following chart details enrollment in the district between 2007 and 2012:[1]

Total enrollment
Year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2007 11,513 -
2008 11,532 0.2
2009 11,492 -0.3
2010 11,463 -0.3
2011 11,425 -0.3
2012 11,377 -0.4

District schools

St. Joseph School District operates 23 schools listed below in alphabetical order:[17]

St. Joseph School District
School Name
Benton High School
Bode Middle School
Central High School
Coleman Elementary School
Edison Elementary School
Ellison Elementary School
Field Elementary School
Hall Elementary School
Hosea Elementary School
Humboldt Elementary School
Hyde Elementary School
Lafayette High School
Lake Contrary Elementary School
Lindbergh Elementary School
Mark Twain Elementary School
Noyes Elementary School
Parkway Elementary School
Pershing Elementary School
Pickett Elementary School
Robidoux Middle School
Skaith Elementary School
Spring Garden Middle School
Truman Middle School

St. Joseph School District map.jpg

Academic performance

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education publishes an Annual Performance Report (APR) that evaluates academic progress in each school district. The Missouri School Improvement Program, an initiative within the state education department, uses APR information to determine if a district should achieve or retain accreditation. Each district's APR details student achievement across 12 criteria including:

  • Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) scores for grades three through 11
  • Reading test scores for grades three and seven
  • ACT scores
  • Advanced and vocational courses
  • College and vocational placement
  • Attendance

State education officials conclude whether a district meets or fails to meet state standards for each APR criterion. The following table presents APR information for the district from 2003 through 2005:[18]

APR District Summary, 2003-2005
School year MAP Index Grade 3-5 MAP Index Grade 6-8 MAP Index Grade 9-11 Reading Index Grade 3 Reading Index Grade 7 ACT Advanced Courses Vocational Courses College Placement Vocational Placement Dropout Attendance
2003 Met Met Not Met Met Met Met Met Not Met Met Met Met Met
2004 Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Not Met Met Met Met Met
2005 Met Met Met Met Not Met Met Met Not Met Met Met Met Met

The criteria used for APRs changed slightly following the 2005 reporting period. Statistics for graduation rate, attendance rate and subgroup achievement were included in the APR starting in 2006. The following table presents APR information for the district from 2006 to 2012:

APR District Summary, 2006-2012
School year MAP Index Grade 3-5 MAP Index Grade 6-8 MAP Index Grade 9-11 ACT Advanced Courses Career Education Courses College Placement Career Education Placement Graduation Rate Attendance Rate Subgroup Achievement
2006 Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met
2007 Met Met Met Met Met Met Not Met Met Met Not Met Not Met
2008 Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Not Met
2009 Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Not Met
2010 Met Met Met Met Met Met Met N/A Met Met Not Met
2011 Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Not Met
2012 Not Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Met Not Met

For the 2012-2013 school year, St. Joseph School District students earned an average MAP index score of 359.1. Students scored highest in social studies with an index score of 381, but they scored lowest in mathematics with an index score of 348. St. Joseph's average MAP index score ranked 140 out of the 469 Missouri school districts that reported scores for all four tested subject areas.[19]

Issues

Investigations into accounting and hiring practices

See also: Stipend scandal erupts in St. Joseph, Missouri

St. Joseph School District faces investigations by the Missouri State Auditor, the United States Department of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation related to stipends issued by Superintendent Fred Czerwonka. The superintendent, appointed in July 2013, allegedly used a rebate from the district's insurance provider to distribute $270,000 in stipends to 54 administrators without board approval. District policy requires a report to the school board and a deposit of any excess funds including refunds from vendors. Czerwonka, district human resources director Doug Flowers and school board member Dan Colgan also face accusations of using their positions to guarantee promotions within the district and raises for family members.

The flashpoint for these allegations was a school board meeting on March 24, 2014. Board member Chris Danford presented information she received from district residents about the stipends offered by Czerwonka. Beau Musser, the district's chief financial officer (CFO), also revealed that he received a list of stipend recipients from Flowers. Musser was placed on paid leave on March 28, 2014, after the superintendent presented him with several accusations of sexual harassment against district employees. The former CFO claims in a lawsuit against the district that Czerwonka offered to drop the harassment claims if he resigned from his position. During Musser's time as CFO, he found that the district could not account for 4,000 gallons of fuel, failed to follow bidding procedures for district vehicles and approved $189,000 in consulting fees without board approval.

Contact information

St. Joseph School District logo.png
St. Joseph School District
925 Felix St.
St. Joseph, MO 64501
Phone: (816) 671-4000

See also

External links

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "K-12 Enrollment: St. Joseph School District," accessed February 5, 2014
  2. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Missouri 2010‐2011 Four‐Year High School Graduation Rate," accessed June 30, 2014
  3. St. Joseph School District, "The Public Schools of St. Joseph, Missouri," accessed June 30, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 U.S. Census, "Quick Facts: St. Joseph," accessed February 5, 2014
  5. Missouri Secretary of State, "Missouri Election Results," accessed June 30, 2014
  6. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  7. St. Joseph School District, "Superintendent," accessed February 5, 2014
  8. St. Joseph News-Press, "District introduces new superintendent," March 2013
  9. St. Joseph School District, "Policies & Regulations," accessed June 30, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. St. Joseph School District, "School Board Member Ethics," October 9, 2006
  12. St. Joseph School District, "Public Participation at Board Meetings," October 9, 2006
  13. St. Joseph School District, "Annual Budget 2013-2014," June 24, 2013
  14. St. Joseph School District, "2013-2014 Teacher Salary Schedule," accessed February 5, 2014
  15. Associated Press, "FBI looking into school district stipend questions", April 11, 2014; retrieved April 16, 2014
  16. St. Joseph News-Press, "School district concerns draw FBI interest", April 10, 2014
  17. St. Joseph School District, "Schools," accessed February 4, 2014
  18. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Accountability," accessed June 30, 2014
  19. Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, "State Assessment," accessed July 8, 2014