16 North City Residents, Students, Alumni, Educators Launch Campaign for SLPS Budget Transparency

ST. LOUIS, MO, September 18, 2018 — A North City-based coalition of 16 launch their inaugural campaign, demanding increased SLPS budget transparency and community input, Tuesday morning. In two weekends, a teach-in and letter writing event, will educate the public on concerns of access and engagement.

The Better Budgets, Better Schools coalition demands that the district formally adopt and implement the following policies:

  1. Distribute paper and electronic communications to all schools staff, faculty, and families about all budget meetings and decisions.

  2. Host four community input sessions a year to inform the public about budget decisions for the upcoming school year.

  3. Release paper and electronic reports and dashboards that illustrate district-wide and school specific budget sources, allocations, goals, and strategic priorities.

Members of the coalition are affiliated with SLPS in a variety of ways—from SLPS students, alumni and educators, to parents, grandparents and aunts of students. Gloria Nolan, an alumni of SLPS and parent of two SLPS students, says that if implemented, the policy changes would help ensure better outcomes for students. “It is proven that given the proper support and resources that all children can achieve at high levels. I want SLPS to ensure that the needed support and resources are made available now to secure our children’s future. SLPS has the ability to make necessary changes so that both of the schools my children attend are adequately resourced!”

“The disparity in funding for schools is horrific. We need to bridge the gap!” says Kellie Shelton, resident of Mark Twain neighborhood.

Currently, the budget is only available through deep research dives from a variety of sources. Diamond Gordon, mother of SLPS student, Zoe, who is also part of the coalition, “There is no way for everyday residents to gain a comprehensive understanding of, for example, the formula the city uses to allocate funds, the scale of diverted funds away from the budget, or how discretionary funds are spent at the school level. These are all things that we should be able to find out. These are our schools! It’s our budget.”

“The budget has too important of an impact on our lives for us to be kept in the dark. #ShowUsTheBudget” says Jacqueline Person, a SLPS teacher. “Our city’s youth deserve education system that meets their needs. We envision a future where our public schools are centers of public engagement, especially around resource allocation.”

Better Budgets, Better Schools invites city residents to a Teach-in and Letter Writing Event at Julia Davis Library on September 29th, 2:30-4pm. The event will introduce the campaign through the lens of experiences of coalition members. Barriers to accessing the budget will be discussed. Attendees will be welcomed to write letters urging SLPS superintendent Dr. Adams to meet with the coalition and to make policy changes by the end of December in line with the demands.

Better Budgets, Better Schools is a campaign designed by graduates of WEPOWER’s inaugural Power-Building Academy in North City. As part of the 6-month community organizing and capacity-building training, power-builders pick a policy area they want to advocate on that is personal to them and then build a campaign to enact that change. The second WEPOWER hub in East St. Louis just launched their Power-Building Academy this month.

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Spokespeople available for comment, interview.

Better Budgets, Better Schools: Diamond Gordon, Danielle Stewart, Gloria Nolan, betterbudgets@wepowerstl.org

Campaign Website: bit.ly/betterbudgets-betterschools

Teach-in Event: bit.ly/2MHMnSv

About WEPOWER: wepowerstl.org