Dr. Gaines delivers his 2020 State of the District address

Dr. Gaines delivers his 2020 State of the District address
Posted on 09/16/2020
2020 State of the District AddressMehlville School District superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines looks back on the past year, gives an update on the district’s current work and looks ahead to the future in his 2020 State of the District address

Looking back

The district spent time engaging the public during the 2019-2020 school year through Mehlville Listens, which consisted of a combination of in-person meetings and surveys.
Mehlville Listens meeting
The purpose of Mehlville Listens was to determine what was important to parents, students and the community as the district developed the next iteration of its strategic plan. Safety and personalization of learning were the top themes that emerged through the process.

“When we asked people what kind of school experience they wanted for their child, a safe experience is what we heard over and over again,” Dr. Gaines said. 

You can view the results of our surveys on the Mehlville Listens section of the website.
Facilities Steering Committee
Over the past two years, our Facilities Steering Committee has visited every building in the district and reviewed input from surveys of students, parents and staff. That information was used to prioritize projects in each building. 

Additionally, the district’s activities since March have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many plans for the end of last school year and the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year changed due to the pandemic. 

“We pivoted to stay at home, our teaching and learning changed, and our finances changed too,” Dr. Gaines said. 

Businesses were impacted by the shutdown, which resulted in changes to employment and the state’s general revenue and cuts to our state basic formula and transportation dollars at the end of last year. Those impacts have continued into the current school year. 

Where we are now
The district is continuing to pivot and make decisions based on COVID-19 metrics in our area and recommendations from St. Louis County Public Health.
Hagemann Elementary teacher leads a virtual lesson

All students began the year learning virtually in Plan C, our connected learning model. Next week, students in preschool through second grade will transition to Plan B, our blended learning model. Those students will begin learning on-campus two days a week. 

“It’s not just our students who’ve been learning in different ways, it’s our adults too,” Dr. Gaines said. “This has been new for everyone, and it’s been a learning experience for everyone." 

Despite interruptions caused by the pandemic, the district is continuing work on the Strategic Plan by taking the themes of safety and personalization the community identified and creating goals, strategies and action steps. 

Looking ahead
Voters made a significant investment in facilities 20 years ago through the approval of Prop P. The district has identified projects that will need to be completed in the future as the life cycle of some of those projects, particularly HVAC, come to an end. 

Hagemann HVAC work

“We’ve identified $30 million in air conditioning and heating work that needs to be completed over the next six to ten years,” Dr. Gaines said. “We’re starting to plan now for that cliff we know is out there.” 
The district is also looking to continue to improve the experience students have in our classrooms. The pandemic was a good test for a lot of the processes the district had in place.


Student learning virtually
“Having a Chromebook for every student K-12 has been a huge help during virtual learning,” Dr. Gaines said. “We also know that we have to continually improve those systems because there will be more change in the future.” 

One of the changes the district made this year is the opening of Mehlville@Home. Around 2,000 students are currently enrolled in the all-virtual school.  The district is committed to continuing to offer Mehlville@Home as an option for families even after the pandemic is behind us. 

“We are planning to continue to expand the Academy concept at the middle school level and the MyPath program in our high schools,” Dr. Gaines said. “Those fit into that theme of personalization and how we personalize the learning experience for all of our students.” 

The district is planning to complete the next Strategic Plan and bring it to the Mehlville Board of Education for approval early in 2021. 
The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].