sumner high stl

St. Louis board scheduled to decide on closing 10 schools

Dec. 14, 2020
The city's public school district has seen student enrollment plummet from 115,000 in 1967 to less than 19,000 in 2020.

Ten or more public schools in St. Louis may close for good next fall if a proposal from St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams is approved.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the school board's consideration of the proposed closures was postponed several months ago when schools nationwide suspended in-person classes as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the nation.

Adams has recommended closing three high schools, one middle school and six elementary schools. A forth high school would be converted to a middle school. The board is expected to vote Tuesday on the proposal Dec. 15.

The number of students in city public schools has plummeted since peaking at 115,543 in 1967. Last year, enrollment fell below 20,000 for the first time since the late 1800s. The coronavirus pandemic brought about a steeper dive this fall, as enrollment dropped by 9%.

There are now 18,248 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, down from 19,801 last year, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. An additional 11,400 city students attend charter schools.

Adams’ proposal would close Clay, Dunbar, Farragut, Ford, Hickey and Monroe elementary schools, Fanning Middle School, and Cleveland Naval Jr. ROTC, Northwest and Sumner high schools. Carnahan High would be converted to a middle school under the proposal.

Adams has overseen 17 building closures since becoming superintendent in 2008. The last major round of school closures was in 2010, when the district went from 86 to 75 buildings.

In addition to low enrollment, other factors in the recommendations for closure include a school’s physical condition and neighborhood population trends.

In response to the district's proposal, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has passed a resolution opposing the proposed school closings.

“Your doing this will cause a terrible demise in my ward,” says 4th Ward Alderman Dwinderlin Evans, D-4th Ward, said. “I’ve got millions of dollars of development that’s coming and they want to close my schools. I’m sorry, I get emotional, but this is ludicrous and it shouldn’t happen.”

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