Riverview Gardens School District granted provisional accreditation

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - The Missouri State Board of Education reclassified Riverview Gardens School District as provisionally accredited. Students, staff, and community partners are being praised for the effort to restore the district's academic standing.

The decision follows a department presentation outlining the district’s improvements over the past few years. The classification will go into effect on January 4, 2017, the first day of the second semester.

A decade ago, the district was facing questionable leadership and financial mismanagement. It lost its accreditation in 2007. But two years of much improved scores on Missouri school standards prompted the state board to take Riverview Gardens off the unaccredited list.

Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said this accreditation classification is the result of improvements gained through hard work from students, teachers and leaders in the Riverview Gardens School District and community.

“We are pleased with their efforts to help students succeed," she said.

The district scored 74.3 percent of the possible points in it's 2016 Annual Performance Report. It's the second straight year the district has scored more than 70 percent. The department considers multiple APRs in its consideration of accreditation classification. The process ensures sustained improvement in the district.

In addition, there will no longer be a provision in state law allowing Riverview Gardens students to transfer to other districts once the new accreditation classification becomes effective.

For the time being, Riverview Gardens District will continue to operate with a state appointed special board. Resident students who are attending schools in accredited districts will be allowed to finish the spring term at their current schools. The district has spent more than $23 million paying tuition and some transportation costs for those students.

Riverview Gardens became unaccredited in 2007 and a Special Administrative Board was named in 2010. The current members are Dr. Lynn Beckwith, Jr., Mrs. Veronica Morrow-Reel and Dr. Mark Tranel.

District Superintendent Scott Spurgeon was hired in 2013 and over that time has won praise from the state board members and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

Spurgeon, in turn, has praised students, staff, families, and local business partners for the turnaround. He predicted the move will help increase property values in the district and encourage more economic development.

"We believe this is going to be a real shot in the arm and a morale booster for our district,” he said Friday after the board voted during a regular meeting in Kansas City.