Superintendent Arthur R. Culver came to East St. Louis School District 189 in August 2011 as a liaison from the Illinois State Board of Education. Less than two months later, he was named Superintendent for District 189, and he has been working collaboratively ever since with the local Board of Education, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Financial Oversight Panel (FOP), the staff and the community to make sustained improvements in student achievement and financial stability.
“My entire career has been focused on improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged students,” says Superintendent Culver. “A student’s zip code, family income status, nor race should dictate their educational attainment. I am committed to creating positive changes for the students and staff in District 189. Many of our children come from economically disadvantaged homes, but they are rich in intelligence, ability, and the will to succeed. This is all that we need to become a premier district in Illinois.”
An experienced school turnaround leader, Superintendent Culver has established the structures and systems necessary to support teacher and student success in District 189. This includes implementing rigorous curriculum standards, increased teacher and principal accountability that includes responsibility for student academic growth, and increased social-emotional supports for students. In the area of finance, the District has gone from concerns about having enough funds to make payroll in 2012 to now having a contingency fund that ensures stability for the immediate.
With these systems and supports in place, District 189’s recent accomplishments include:
- Increased the Freshmen on Track to graduate from 69% in 2016 to 80% for 2017.
- Increased Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment from 30 seats in 2012 to 444 students in 2017.
- Increased ACT average score one full point from 15.1 in 2016 to 16.1 in 2017.
- Increased the four-year graduation rate by 14.2% (62.8% in 2012 to 77.0% in 2017).
- Increased scholarships earned by seniors from $389,000 in 2014 to over $14 million in 2017.
- Increased percentage of students enrolling into college within 12 months of graduation from 47% in 2014 to 59% in 2017.
- Increased college persistence rate (percentage of those who entered college in one year and returned the second year) from 49% in 2016 to 61% in 2017.
- Decreased the dropout rate from 8% in 2014 to 4% in 2017.
- Achieved 82.9% to 177.5% of expected growth in NWEA across all cohorts in reading and math from Fall 2014 to Winter 2017.
- Eliminated excess personnel and vendor contracts, continuously seeking grants and supplemental funds and appropriations, and using working cash bonds to attain financial stability.
- Supporting student social-emotional needs by adding social workers, counselors, behavior specialists and opening the new Family and Community Engagement Center.
Prior to coming to District 189, Superintendent Culver spent over 30 years in public education as a teacher and administrator, including nine years as superintendent for the Champaign Community Unit School District #4 in Champaign, Illinois. Under Superintendent Culver’s leadership there, African American elementary math and reading scores improved by 30 percent and 26 percent respectively while the District worked to meet the mandates of a Federal Consent Decree. African American middle school scores improved by almost 51 percent and 26 percent respectively in math and reading, and enrollment of African American students in Honors and Advanced Placement courses tripled during this same time period. These and other improved outcomes for African American students led to the successful settlement of the ten-year-old Federal Consent Decree in July 2009. He demonstrated the same commitment and success to closing the achievement gap for low-income and minority students in every position that he ever had.
In 2009, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called upon Culver to be a part of a “Blue Sky” Turnaround team to provide innovative ideas regarding school reform. He has also served on the Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB), a group that advocates for foundation funding for all districts and equitable funding for districts with high enrollments of low-income students. He continues to advocate for change to the funding formula in Illinois to ensure the long-term financial stability of District 189 and other low-property wealth districts in the state.
Superintendent Culver holds a Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston in Texas. He has completed all courses required for a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Cultural Studies at the University of Houston, and he is certified as a Superintendent in both Texas and Illinois. He and his wife Annetta are the parents of three sons and four grandchildren.