Approximately 11 St. Louis Public schools should be closed for good, according to a recommendation from Superintendent Kelvin Adams that was presented to the school board Tuesday evening.
On that list is Charles H. Sumner High School in the Ville neighborhood of north St. Louis. It was the first high school for Black students west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1875. Including Sumner, seven of the recommended closings are north of Delmar Boulevard.
“So the district has a strong past — we’re not here necessarily to focus on the past but really to use the past as a benchmark for thinking about what we need to do in the future,” Adams said, as he began his presentation.
Adams noted that approximately 1,000 people participated in community vision workshops that sought to prioritize what the community sees as best when it comes to school consolidation.
After explaining the variables that went into the decision-making process — things that included enrollment demand, building condition, capacity and special programs or considerations— Adams recommended closing four high schools, one middle school and six elementary schools.
The recommended closings north of Delmar Boulevard are: Clay, Dunbar, Farragut, Ford and Hickey, all elementary schools; Sumner High School and Northwest Academy of Law High School.
The other schools on the list are: Monroe Elementary, just south of the Benson Park neighborhood; Fanning Middle School in Tower Grove South; Cleveland High School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood and Carnahan High School in Dutchtown.
Adams took questions about the recommendations from the board members, who expressed concerns about several things including where displaced students would turn to for schooling and if the district would lose too many buildings and parcels of land the city might need later on down the line.
“I guess my big concern is the population will turn around one day, right now we’re under … gentrification,” board member Donna Jones said. “We’ve been gentrified here in the city of St. Louis and I know it’s going to take a little while to get back, but are we trying to get rid of all of our land?”
Adams said no, the district is only trying to sell some of the properties. Currently about 15 properties are up for sale.
“It’s been very difficult to get the … permission to demolish property,” he said, referring to historical preservation requirements. “And if it’s an Ittner building they automatically say ‘no.’”
William B. Ittner was an architect in the mid 19th and 20th centuries who designed over 430 school buildings in Missouri alone.
While Sumner and Northwest are magnet schools, school board Vice President Susan Jones noted that the only north St. Louis high school left for students would be Vashon High School on Cass Avenue, in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood.
Residents may submit comments and questions about the consolidation plan using the form at https://bit.ly/36whSMA until 9 a.m.,Dec. 7. The board will then hold a virtual town hall for public comment on Adams’ recommendations at 6p.m. on Dec. 8, which will include a live chat opportunity to ask questions directly to Adams and the board members. Attendees will receive the link to the town hall upon submitting the form.
The board is slated to vote on Adams’ closure proposal Dec. 15.