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Readers: Some Public Schools Must Be Closed Due To Declining Enrollment

March 4, 2020 Education, Featured No Comments
The former John Marshall School remains unsold, continues to deteriorate.

The population of St. Louis has been shrinking for decades, so has the enrollment in St. Louis Public Schools.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams laid out a data-heavy case for why SLPS needs to overhaul how, and where, it educates 21,500 students across 68 buildings.

SLPS once educated more than 110,000 students and has been closing buildings for nearly three decades to keep up with a student population and overall shrinking city. Meanwhile, more independent charter schools have opened in the last 20 years and educate a third of public school children.

Having fewer students across more buildings, Adams said, “does not make sense, at least in my math.” (St. Louis Public Radio)

Adams is right, too many buildings for too few students. The problem is in deciding which to close. North St. Louis is more sparsely populated than South St. Louis, but some schools should stay open regardless. How many and where?

Former Arlington School in North St. Louis converted to residential in 2013.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll more than half of readers think some schools do need to close.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis Public Schools needs to keep the remaining schools open. Vacant schools harm neighborhoods.

  • Strongly agree: 12 [21.05%]
  • Agree: 4 [7.02%]
  • Somewhat agree: 9 [15.79%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 6 [10.53%]
  • Disagree: 13 [22.81%]
  • Strongly disagree: 12 [21.05%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [1.75%]

It’s inevitable, schools will need to close. No matter which schools do close there will be people who are unhappy about it. I just hope the process is fair and transparent.  The neighborhoods with newly closed schools will need to help market the properties so they don’t sit vacant for decades. Of course, neighborhoods that are already struggling will find this harder to do.

— Steve Patterson


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