McNeil Picked To Head Affton School Board

“The Affton School District Board of Education convened for a special session April 12 and – to the surprise of no one – agreed upon Michael McNeil as its new president.

McNeil had served outspokenly as board vice president the two previous years under Ron Becher’s presidency, and served on many key committees.

Becher was on hand to pass the baton to McNeil. The departing president said he would remain active in Affton Public School affairs, notably his commitment to the recently formed Early Childhood Education Committee.

The board also tapped Doug Beck as vice president and Thomas Bellavia as treasurer, and seated newcomer Susan Casaleggi. Casaleggi, running for her first elected public office, was the top vote-getter on April 5.

One committee – the Co-Curricular Committee – was dissolved at the April 12 meeting, while a new School Improvement Committee was formed.

McNeil, who is serving his second term on the board and is a design engineer by profession, said the board’s first priority will “remain what it has been, student performance. That’s what we’re here for.”

He said the formation of the new committee will directly impact that priority, as it will monitor progress toward the long-term school improvement plan approved by the district last year.

“Of course, we’re also very excited about the ECE (early childhood education) center. It’s going to be an amazing development and a great place for kids to learn. We are approaching it from the program out, not from the facade of a building in,” McNeil said.

A third item McNeil mentioned as he begins his presidency is the proposed Shrewsbury TIF District, which remains an issue albeit a stalled one.

“I am on that TIF committee and I’ll be following this intensely as it develops. I believe this will have a negative impact on our district funding. Some say it won’t have much impact, but I think it will,” McNeil said.”

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Printed in the South County Times on April 15, 2011

Article by Joe Leicht

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