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The '30s

Historical Perspective:

  • Olive was known as “Plank Road”
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Mr. P.A. Ladue Farm was at the corner of Ladue and Warson
  • Ladue Farms “Gentry Suburban”
  • National Housing Boom
  • WWI
  • WWII begins in Europe

Ladue Schools:


  • The three villages of Ladue, McKnight and Deer Creek were incorporated into the City of Ladue in 1936.
  • $70,000 was spent to build Spoede Elementary. Prior to hosting a school, the land was home to a tree nursery.


  • Reed Elementary School was built on 6.033 acres and was called Ladue School or “Little Ladue.”


  • The Ladue School District—then an elementary district—was organized under its first superintendent, Dr. Millard Bell.

The '40s and '50s

Historical Perspective:

  • Korean War (1950-’52)
  • Eisenhower Highway development begins in 1956 (40/64/70)
  • Country Day – Mary I to county – Burroughs (etc.)
  • Baby Boom (1946-’64)
  • 1954 – Brown v. Board of Education

Ladue Schools:


  • 50 – 80% fund balances


  • The Ladue School District annexed the following elementary school districts at their request:  Wright Elementary School District, Olivette Elementary School District, and Huntleigh School District.
  • The Ladue School District annexed Central Elementary School.
  • Conway Elementary School construction was finished, and classes started on Sept. 12, 1949.


  • Mrs. Horton Watkins donated the land upon which to build a high school to be named after her late husband.
  • A $675,000 bond issue passed to build Ladue Horton Watkins High School.


  • The Ladue School District was established as a K-12 district.
  • The Ladue School District annexed Spoede Elementary School District.


  • Ladue Horton Watkins High School opened with 550 students in grades 7-12; blue and white were selected as the school colors, and the Rams were chosen as the team mascot. Classes met four days a week with 70-minute periods. The front façade is original to the building.
  • Elementary schools included: Central, Conway, Price, Reed, Spoede, and Wright.


  • Ladue Local, the high school newspaper, was launched.


  • A $1,950,000 bond issue passed to expand Ladue Horton Watkins High School, including restructuring the internal building to add 18 classrooms and an auditorium with band and chorus rooms (opened April 1955) and a swimming pool with an upper gym (opened January 1956).


  • The first year of classes began at Old Bonhomme Elementary.


  • The Dielman Elementary property was purchased from Indian Meadows, Inc., for $1.
  • A $3 million bond issue was passed to build a junior high and a new elementary school, and to add 12 classrooms to existing buildings and necessary auxiliary facilities to accommodate increased enrollment.


  • Dielman Elementary was built.


  • The first year of classes began at Dielman Elementary.


  • East Ladue Junior High School opened with 959 students in grades 7-9. High school classes adopted a seven-period day, each lasting 55 minutes. Six periods were required with the seventh period optional. PE was required.
  • A bond issue was passed to purchase 30 acres at Ladue & Graeser Roads to build a second junior high school and an Administrative Center and to expand existing schools.

The '60s

Historical Perspective:

  • Cold War (1947-’91)
  • Sputnik (1957)
  • Duck & Cover (1951)
  • Vietnam (Seven graduates from the high school were lost)
  • Busch Memorial Stadium (Busch Stadium II) was completed (1966)
  • The St. Louis Arch was completed (1965)

Ladue Schools:


  • A bond issue was passed on Feb. 9 for $3.3 million to expand school facilities (25 classrooms at the high school), build a second junior high and purchase land for two new grade schools.
  • The Administration Building was built.


  • Hilltop Elementary School and West Ladue Junior High open.
  • The student high school newspaper was renamed Panorama.


  • Grandview Elementary opens.
  • For 11 years (1962-1972), the school district had 10 elementary schools: Central, Conway, Dielman, Grandview, Hilltop, Old Bonhomme, Price, Reed, Spoede and Wright.


  • A $1,475,000 bond issue was passed in February to expand the high school (third hallway on the back of the school for 25 additional classrooms, adding science classrooms in the basement below the third hallway and enlarging the cafeteria and boiler room) and other district buildings.


  • The Facilities/Maintenance Building was built.


  • Dr. Tines, Dr. Banister; “Innovation” began at the high school.


  • Ladue School or “Little Ladue” was renamed Reed Elementary School on Feb. 11 after Principal Mamie Reed.
  • “Innovation” expanded.

The '70s

Historical Perspective:

  • Vietnam – faculty divided; student unrest
  • St. Louis “Inner Ring” schools closed
  • Kinloch and Ferguson-Florissant merged

Ladue Schools:


  • Emergence of special education (94-142)
  • MNEA v. MSTA
  • Many contentious Board meetings
  • Ladue 5 – 6 years “behind”
  • Thoughtful Education was adopted as the school district’s framework.


  • Many changes were made to the high school, including:
    • Additions: a new high school gymnasium, a dance studio, a weight training room, coaches offices, health instructional classrooms and a more spacious band room
    • A larger shop area
    • More locker space
    • Original gym became the library
    • Tennis courts moved to the south side of the high school, and the number of courts increased
    • Old library became a computer room


  • A $2,560,000 bond issue passed in February.
  • The district consisted of 13 schools with three grade levels at the high school.
  • High school enrollment hit a high of 1,595 students.


  • Grandview Elementary School closed (now Olivette Community Center).


  • Grandview Elementary School sold to the City of Olivette for $211,000.


  • A pilot project was approved for a parent-child program. Parent And Child Together (PACT) launched with two classes based on parent education, parent support and shared parent-child experiences.


  • Last year Central, Dielman and Hilltop Elementary Schools, and West Junior High School opened.  


  • The 9th grade moved to the high school.
  • Hilltop Elementary & Dielman Elementary closed.
  • West Ladue Junior High closed (It was sold to SSD for $2.2 million, who later sold it in 1982 to Westminster Christian Academy for $3 million, who then sold it back to the Ladue School District in 2010 for $18 million — having completed an $11 million renovation in 2000.)
  • Hilltop Elementary School sold to Apple School for $295,000.
  • Extended Day Kindergarten was added as a half-day enrichment program designed to compliment regular kindergarten.
  • The early childhood center was officially given its name, the Ladue Early Childhood Center.

The '80s

Historical Perspective:

  • VTS “voluntary” agreement was reached
  • 1984 – Parents as Teachers
  • Kirkland, J. Howard, social activist Ron Jackson
  • Emphasis on high stakes testing – MO:SB 380 (1993)

Ladue Schools:


  • The Ladue “Welfare Committee” – eventually dissolved
  • “Middle school” philosophy at Ladue Junior High


  • Apple computers were introduced into Ladue School District classrooms.
  • The property that previously hosted the West Ladue Junior High School was sold to the Special School District.


  • The district sold Dielman Elementary to the Special School District for $460,000.
  • This was the last year that Price and Wright elementary schools were open.
  • A summer program for preschool students, Scooters and Scampers, was offered.


  • The high school cafeteria was remodeled, the rifle range in the basement became a storage area, and the Rifle Club was dropped from school activities.
  • PACT Preschool, a developmental preschool program, was introduced, closing the programming gap between parent-child classes and the kindergarten enrichment program. Programs at the LECC served children from birth through 6 years old and their families.
  • Central Elementary School closed. A portion of Central School was used as an early childhood center under the auspices of the Ladue Community School and was also referred to as Ladue Early Childhood Center.
  • The Ladue Early Childhood Center opened in the former Wright Elementary School building.
  • Price Elementary School closed and was sold to Churchill School for $569,791.92.
  • The Special School District sold the property that previously hosted West Ladue Junior High School to Westminster Christian Academy.


  • Central Elementary School sold to Logos School for $301,000.


  • A summer camp, Pebbles and Stepping Stones for 3- to 6-year-olds, was established.
  • A Before and After School care program (BASK) was established and operated from each of the four elementary schools and at the LECC.


  • The Ladue School District contracted with the LECC to provide the state-mandated services for Parents As Teachers. The service is for district residents and is free.


  • Spoede Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The ‘90s

Historical Perspective:

  • NLCB (No Child Left Behind) – The national law exposed facts of achievement gaps.

Ladue Schools:


  • Wright Elementary School closed.


  • The high school adopted the motto “Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Share”.
  • The Ladue School District incorporated Parents As Teachers into the district.
  • The LECC assumed the administration of the BASK program at five sites.


  • Old Bonhomme Elementary was named a Gold Star School and a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.


  • Voters passed a 76-cent operating tax increase.
  • Developed “bi-furcation” of points
  • The Board of Education approved the sale of Price School.


  • Voters passed a 6-cent operating tax increase.
  • Smoking and the use of tobacco products became prohibited on district property.


  • A tuition-based, self-supporting, extended-day kindergarten program was initiated through the Ladue Early Childhood Center.
  • The LECC was incorporated into the Ladue School District. The center is run under Ladue Community Services programs.
  • Ladue Early Services joined the LECC.


  • A full-day kindergarten was first offered in the district.


  • Sophomores were offered a pilot program of block scheduling.


  • The Board of Education voted to discontinue accepting new students from the VTS program and to let those already enrolled in the district “graduate out.”

The '00s

Historical Perspective:

  • ESL language issues
  • Terrorism and school violence escalated around the world.
  • Global warming became a higher priority.
  • Reauthorization of IDEA
  • Hurricane Katrina hit the coastlines of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
  • George W. Bush was elected and reelected.
  • Graduation requirements increased by state.
  • The Cardinals won the World Series again (1964, 1967, 1982, 2006, 2011)
  • New state Funding Formula
  • St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens School District lost accreditation (2007)

Ladue Schools:


  • Block scheduling was adopted and implemented at the high school in September.


  • Ladue Junior High (previously East Ladue Junior High School) was renamed Ladue Middle School.
  • A $40.9 million bond issue was passed to expand four elementary schools and the high school (including the Ramming Athletic Center) and to install and upgrade HVAC and electrical in these five schools.
  • Strategic Planning was initiated.


  • Elementary Foreign Language was launched at the four elementary schools.
  • The Board of Education approved the Strategic Plan’s mission, statements, beliefs, objectives, parameters and strategies.
  • Conway Elementary was designated a Gold Star School by the state.


  • Voters rejected a 67-cent operating tax increase.


  • The District Mentoring Program began.
  • The historic point value dropped.
  • Staff reductions occurred due to financial challenges.
  • The relationship between the Board of Education and the superintendent improved.
  • A Budget Task Force was created.
  • An increase in housing tear-downs in the community occurred.
  • Board Advisory Committees were established for Curriculum & Instruction, Finance and Student Services.
  • Reed Elementary School was named a Gold Star School by the state.
  • Old Bonhomme Elementary was named a Gold Star School and a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.


  • The state-funded gifted program began.
  • Community education programming ended.
  • The district began to collect fees for use of facilities and athletic fields.
  • State response to IDEA reauthorization
  • A Compensation Task Force and Insurance Task Force were created.
  • Cyberbullying issues grew.
  • Investigations Math was implemented.


  • Crisis planning and intruder drills increased.
  • A new Student Information System software, Infinite Campus, was selected and implemented.
  • The elementary day was extended by 10 minutes.
  • Dedicated the Velten-Maher field house
  • The early childhood administration was reorganized.
  • Evaluation Task Forces included Philosophy, Evaluation and Compensation
  • High point values
  • The first Ladue Schools graduate was killed in Iraq.
  • Communication Audit
  • A $29.97 million bond issue was passed to renovate and expand K-12 schools and upgrade technology and safety.
  • Conway Elementary was designated a Gold Star School by the state.


  • The district implemented collective bargaining, following a Missouri Supreme Court ruling.
  • The Highway 40 shut-down, which ran through the lower third of the district, caused the district to expand its transportation service and budget.
  • The first safety coordinator was hired.
  • The Ladue Education Foundation Director was hired.
  • The first team-taught class with the Special School District occurred at the Ladue Early Childhood Center.
  • Modular units were used at the schools due to high enrollment numbers at the elementary and middle schools.
  • The Evaluation and Salary Committee became the Evaluation Committee due to collective bargaining function being done by the Ladue Educators Association’s Salary and Welfare Committee.
  • Actually used snow days
  • The civility policy was developed and approved by the Board of Education.
  • Response to Intervention was implemented.
  • The Ladue Early Childhood Education Task Force was created.
  • Summer School was reduced to four weeks.
  • The superintendent’s cabinet was reorganized.
  • Conway Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon – No Child Left Behind School by the U.S. Department of Education.


  • Enrollment growth and capacity issues became increasing concerns.
  • A community survey reflected high level of satisfaction for district and cautious support for district projects.
  • A webmaster was hired and began to build a new district website.
  • There was a $1.7 million decrease in district revenue.
  • Mid-year, about $500,000 in budget cuts was made.
  • H1N1 (Swine Flu) epidemic swept the country.  Students were vaccinated in schools for the first time in decades.  
  • A Facility Planning Committee was formed.
  • Prop O, a $32 million bond issue, was placed on the April 6, 2010 ballot to purchase property and educational facilities from Westminster Christian Academy (the land that previously hosted West Ladue Junior High School) and build a new early childhood center. It passed with 60% approval.  
  • A strategic plan was developed for 2009 to 2014 and was later extended to 2015.

The '10s

Historical Perspective:

  • Many states were granted waivers from No Child Left Behind requirements, including Missouri
  • President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012 for a second term.
  • In 2012, a gunman shot his mother then invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where he shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults, including the principal and psychologist.
  • On Aug. 9, 2014, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael’s death sparked protests in the St. Louis area that lasted for weeks. On Nov. 24, it was announced that a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, which prompted further protests. These events led to a nationwide conversation about police and racial bias.
  • In 2014, Indiana was the first state to withdraw from the Common Core standards.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law and replaced NCLB, allowing more state control in assessing school quality.
  • Enrollment plateaus
  • The Normandy School District lost accreditation in 2013, and in 2014, the Missouri Board of Education voted to dissolve the district and create a new entity called the “Normandy Schools Collaborative.
  • In 2016, the federal government set down guidelines for school districts to allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. Districts choosing not to comply could lose federal aid.
  • In 2016, business mogul Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Ladue Schools:


  • Construction began on the new Ladue Early Childhood Center on July 22, 2010.  
  • Enrollment growth continued. Count day showed enrollment to be up 132 students from the year before, resulting in 22% growth since 2003.
  • The new district website was unveiled on Sept. 13, 2010.
  • The Turner v. Clayton School District ruling decided students residing in unaccredited school districts are entitled to attend an accredited public school in the same or an adjoining county at the cost of the sending district. The ruling was sent back to a lower court for review and was not considered  to be “self-executing.”
  • Mid-year, about $600,000 in budget cuts was made.
  • A Budget Task Force convened from September to December to report a list of possible expenditure reductions.
  • In February, the Board of Education determined that the existing West Ladue Campus facilities would be renovated and used for a Fifth Grade Center.
  • Summer school offerings were minimized due to budget constraints.
  • A $5 million reduction in the 2011-12 budget was developed.
  • The Ladue School District began partnering with the Danforth Plant Science Center for mentoring programs.
  • The robotics programs gained popularity and support.


  • The new, state-of-the-art Ladue Early Childhood Center opened on Sept. 12, 2011.
  • The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act created confusion and concern among public school districts by limiting all contact between staff and students using social media (later rectified through emergency legislation).
  • The Board of Education voted to place a $.49 operating tax levy increase on the April 3, 2012 ballot, to be referred to as Prop 1. It passed with a 52.77% approval and a record-breaking 46% turnout.
  • Spotlight on Ladue was unveiled as a one-of-a-kind online blog site completely dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of student, staff, alumni and the district as a whole.  
  • Fifth Grade Center planning was underway.


  • A 2% expenditure increase parameter was set by Board of Education in order to prolong the need to increase the operating tax levy further.
  • The district Facebook and Twitter accounts were established.
  • On June 11, 2013, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an opinion on Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton, overruling a previous judicial opinion. The new decision required accredited school districts located in St. Louis County, or any adjoining county, to admit students who resided within two then-unaccredited school districts in St. Louis County—Normandy and Riverview Gardens—starting in the 2013-2014 school year.


  • Enrollment growth continued. Count day showed enrollment to be 4,097, the first time enrollment topped 4,000 since 1978. Of these, 88 were from the student transfer program that brought students over from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts.
  • The Fifth Grade Center opened as the district’s only single-grade school on Aug. 14, 2013, alleviating overcrowding in the district’s four elementary schools.
  • The district began to launch the redesigned and consistently-branded websites beginning with the elementary schools, the Ladue Early Childhood Center and the Fifth Grade Center.
  • The district began using the web application Peachjar to deliver e-flyers directly to parents’ smartphones and emails in an effort to save trees, money and time.
  • The Board of Education set a new class size policy for core academic content areas in all grades (the first new policy since 2002).
  • The district’s Strategic Plan was updated and extended to 2015.


  • All high school students were given iPad mini tablets for school use as a part of the Limitless Learning Initiative.
  • Enrollment continued to climb with more than 60 students than the previous year—860 more than 10 years ago—making the Ladue School District the fastest-growing school district in St. Louis County by a wide margin.
  • A thorough review of the math programming was conducted, and a math cadre was formed to create an action plan around areas in need.
  • The Ladue Educator’s Association and the district administration developed a new compensation structure for certified staff that rectified salary inconsistencies and maintained fairness and equity, as well as budget predictability going forward.
  • About $19 million in bonds were refunded through refinancing in October with a total district savings of more than $2 million over the remaining life of the issue.
  • The district partnered with the Ladue Alumni Association to begin building a structure to provide tools and resources in the hopes that these efforts would encourage the organization to grow.


  • A revised high school schedule (created for a more intentional and efficient use of both instructional time for students and staff) was implemented.
  • Ladue Schools combined forces with the Pattonville School District to support Washington Elementary School in the Normandy Schools Collaborative. The district established a mentoring relationship between between Old Bonhomme Elementary School’s Principal Cheryl Kirchgessner and the principal of Washington Elementary School.
  • On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, voters in the Ladue School District approved Prop R with 64.03% support. The $85.1 million request included a major renovation and a partial rebuild of the high school and smaller safety, security and technology upgrades and projects in other district schools.
  • The Ladue Education Foundation raised nearly $2 million in pledges to support the high school renovation.
  • The Ladue School District launched a new website for alumni.
  • The Ladue School District launched its first mobile app.


  • As a part of the April 2015 Prop R bond issue, the West Campus turf field was completed by the fall 2016.
  • In December, the district refinanced $14,965,000 in bonds originally sold in 2007, saving taxpayers $2,277,905 over the life of the issue for a 13.6% savings. Added to the over $2 million saved through refinancing in October 2014, the repayment of the 2007 bonds was reduced by a total of about $4.5 million.
  • Along with Maplewood-Richmond Heights and Normandy School districts, the Ladue School district committed to ending the use of suspension as a disciplinary measure for students K-3.
  • An updated Strategic Plan was developed.


  • The Ladue Education Foundation integrated the alumni association to offer more resources to the Ladue Schools graduates.
  • The Facilities Master Plan was updated, finalized and approved by the Board of Education.
  • An anonymous donor gave $1 million to support a program coordinator for a new CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Ladue Horton Watkins High School was one of a few high schools to introduce the Missouri Seal of Biliteracy to students.
  • On Aug. 21, 2017, students and staff gathered outside the school buildings to witness the complete solar eclipse.