The State Board of Education did something Thursday that it hasn’t done since 2017.
It met and conducted business.
“The last time we met, the temperature was in the low 40s,” said Charlie Shields, the board’s president.
That meeting was in December, shortly after a board stacked with former Gov. Eric Greitens’ appointees fired the state’s education commissioner.
The move, which was an attempt by Greitens to install a commissioner of his choosing, outraged state senators who thought the governor was overstepping his authority. That led to a group of GOP lawmakers blocking confirmation of anyone who participated in the commissioner’s ouster, leaving the board two members short of a quorum.
Greitens, facing a felony charge and possible impeachment, resigned last month. He was replaced by Mike Parson, a Republican from Bolivar who said getting the board of education back to work was among his top priorities.
On Monday, Parson made two appointments that gave the board a quorum — Carol Hallquist of Kansas City and Peter Herschend of Branson.
“It was very clear to me by his actions, the speed by which he made his appointments, that he is committed to the work of this board,” Shields said Thursday. “The governor and the first lady are committed to public education in this state.”
Herschend, who previously served three terms on the board, said Thursday that he was “delighted to be back.”
“I have never in my life,” he said, “found a position, a job, a responsibility that is more rewarding than my position here on the state board of education.”
Hallquist, the director of SchoolSmart Kansas City, retired as president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation at Hallmark Cards Inc. in 2016.
After months without being able to function, the board’s agenda Thursday was long.
The board approved a handful of applications for charter school renewals, including Kansas City’s Brookside Charter School and Gordon Parks Elementary School.
But the highest profile issues discussed Thursday were two looming priorities: The sixth iteration of the Missouri School Improvement Plan and the search for a new commissioner to lead the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The Missouri School Improvement Plan, known as MSIP, is the state’s accountability system for reviewing and accrediting public school districts in Missouri. Each subsequent version of the plan, which was first implemented in 1990, seeks to expand its scope and enhance its standards.
As for the search for a new commissioner, it has been locked in place since the board lost its quorum.
Former Commissioner Margie Vandeven was fired in December after Greitens made several attempts at appointments and appointment withdrawals to get five board members — a majority — who would agree to oust Vandeven.
The five members who voted to fire Vandeven were never confirmed by the Senate.
Ten people applied for the open commissioner position earlier this year, but process will be reopened the process to expand the pool of applicants.
"We need to be deliberate," Shields said, "and take our time."