665e3beba2596c0245cda91c Adams St

Facilities assessment says nearly half of St. Louis public schools will have to be replaced in the next decade

June 3, 2024
An architecture firm's review says half of the district's 68 schools are in such poor shape that they will have to close or be rebuilt.

Nearly half of the 68 public schools in St. Louis are in such poor shape that they will need to be replaced or closed in the next 10 years, an architecture firm has told the school board.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that if all the buildings stay open, the cost of upkeep for St. Louis Public Schools will reach an estimated $1.8 billion by 2044, representatives from Illinois-based told the school board at a meeting Tuesday.

"Really critical thought needs to be put into whether or not to continue investment in some of these specific facilities," said Stephen Raskin, a vice president with the Cordogan, Clark and Associates architecture firm.

The district has $28 million in immediate needs for plumbing, electrical, roofing, HVAC and other structural concerns, the firm estimates.

The figures do not include the 20 or so vacant school buildings still owned and maintained by the district. The average age of St. Louis school buildings is close to 90 years old, district leaders estimate.

Adams Elementary, built in 1878 in the neighborhood now known as Forest Park Southeast, is the oldest school in the district. The newest schools, Carnahan Middle and Clyde C. Miller High, opened in 2003.

The number of students in the St.. Louis district has steadily fallen since peaking at 115,543 in 1967. This year, enrollment in kindergarten through high school is 16,542. After decades of declining enrollment, the schools are only half-full, on average. About 26 schools have fewer than 200 students.

The school board also has been told that the district expects a $133 million operating deficit in fiscal 2025, mainly because of the end of pandemic relief funds.

The numbers indicate that the district needs to close a large number of its 68 schools, said one local educational consultant. The last round of closures came in 2021, when eight district schools were shut down.

"The number of schools needed is not north of 40," said Robert Dillon, who has been tracking district data. "Ultimately, there needs to be a right-sizing that is big enough that it doesn't have to happen every three or four years."

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

Sponsored Recommendations