August 13, 2012 12:05 am •
St. Louis • Walking to the pulpit with a Bible in hand, Kelvin Adams looked very much like a pastor.
The superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools was at Christ Southern Mission Baptist Church on Sunday morning to preach the importance of education and the community's role in making sure young people show up for school when classes begin today in many local districts, including St. Louis city.
"All of us sitting here have a commitment, a commitment to give more than what we're giving," Adams said. "It's our responsibility as a Christian community to do so."
The church on Page Boulevard was the first of two Sunday services Adams attended. He also spoke to the congregation at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Drive, less than a mile away.
After years of decline, the district expects its first bump in attendance this fall, as students from the shuttered Imagine charter schools look for an alternative.
Adams said in an interview that 28,300 students are enrolled districtwide, including pre-kindergarten. About 1,600 Imagine students are expected in buildings open specifically for them, an additional 500 in the district's magnet schools, and 100 in neighborhood schools.
Adams told the Christ Southern Mission congregation that state test results, made public Tuesday, will bring "encouraging news" to the academically struggling district. He said he was honoring an embargo by the state.
Adams said test scores cannot continue to improve, however, unless students are in school on a regular basis, including on the first day.
The school district over the last five years has seen an uptick in its attendance rate, now about 93 percent, although attendance on the first day of classes has historically been a problem.
Attendance is tied to how well students perform and is used to determine how much public funding a district receives.
Adams, other administrators and members of the Special Administrative Board assigned by the state to oversee the district were to visit 25 congregations Sunday.
Kelsey Moore, 14, who will start her freshman year today at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy on North Grand Boulevard, said it was encouraging to see the superintendent at her church.
"It's a good idea to get people involved," she said.