EAST ST. LOUIS. IL. (KTVI) – The East St. Louis School District 189 invited parents to air out their concerns while in turn receiving an update on the state of the district.
Open forums are held quarterly in the district and this most recent one came just weeks following safety concerns at the district`s high school.
Two students were arrested after a loaded handgun was found in a backpack. The district has said the students will be expelled.
Some parents attending Tuesday's meeting expressed concerns about that incident.
"I would like to see more security and more working metal detectors," said Joseph Jackson, PTSA high school president.
Dinah Campbell is the parent of several high school students and complained that she was never notified about the incident.
Assistant Superintendent Beth Shepperd said a letter was sent home to parents and that the district acted promptly.
"We feel that we are doing everything to keep students safe and we appreciate the parents support in this," said Shepperd.
She also said the district had some good news to share. A $6 million grant will soon support the high school.
She said the funding will allow for a longer school day which will extend instructional time and provide a better opportunity to prepare students for college.
District leaders say landing grants are critical for the district`s survival because without them the payroll will not be met 5 months from now.
The district also shared truancy rates which were near 46.9% for the district while the state average was under 8.6%.
One district leader said part of the problem was that the wrong codes were being entered for students who were absent even though they were present.
Even parents who had complaints for the district praised the idea of holding an open forum to share ideas.
Campbell just hopes some good will come from the meetings.
"A change for the best," she said. "For the safety of our children."