Fate of at least two north St. Louis schools top SAB agenda Tuesday | St. Louis Public Radio

Fate of at least two north St. Louis schools top SAB agenda Tuesday

Dec 18, 2016

The parents, students and staff of at least two St. Louis city schools may soon find out whether this will be the last year their school will be open.

St. Louis Public School’s Special Administrative Board is meeting Tuesday evening to take action on school closures.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams recommended two schools in north St. Louis close at last month’s board meeting: Cote Brilliante Elementary in the Ville neighborhood and Langston Middle School in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood.

Like many other schools in the district, the two buildings have low enrollment. Adams said these schools also have a low neighborhood population.

“We looked at how many houses were being renovated. How many houses were being built. And the numbers were much greater in schools we kept open than schools that we were (recommending) closing,” said Adams after the SAB meeting.

Adams also has his eye on Northwest Law Academy, but held off on a recommendation in November so he could talk to alumni.

While he hasn’t publicly said what he wants to do with the school itself, Adams did recommend consolidating the Sumner and Northwest football teams. He also wants to consolidate the football programs at Cleveland and Roosevelt high schools.

Northwest Law Academy is north of Interstate 70 on Riverview Blvd. Langston Middle School is 3 miles south of Northwest, and Cote Brilliante Elementary is located 2 miles east of Langston.
Credit Mapbox | OpenStreetMap

St. Louis Public Schools has been rearranging its portfolio of schools for several years as part of an ongoing effort to improve performance and make better use of building space amid drops in enrollment.

This year district officials identified ten schools that needed a closer look.   

Isaac Pollack, associate superintendent of innovation, turnaround and charter partnerships, oversaw two sets of meetings at those ten schools earlier in the semester.

“We have been very cautious and careful to do this very openly and transparently, to do it through data and through community input and to do make sure that the key voices of parents and the community members, that those were really elevated in the process,” Pollack said. “And so we tried to make the recommendations based on the data and based on what is best for kids as best we can.”

Rather than posting the meetings publicly, Pollack said the school principals invited parents, alumni and community members to attend.

The ideas generated during those meetings were presented alongside the superintendent’s recommendations at the November SAB meeting.

At the November SAB meeting, Superintendent Kelvin Adams said he wanted to meet with alumni before making a decision about the future of Northwest Law Academy.
Credit Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Suggestions to boost enrollment at Northwest Law Academy included converting it to a neighborhood school and consolidating it with a middle school.

The choice high school located near Interstate 70 in the Covenant Blu-Grand Center neighborhood doesn’t currently have students assigned to the school.  

According to district data, only 15 percent of the St. Louis Public School students that live in the neighborhood around Northwest choose to attend the high school, which has curriculum focused on law and transportation.

In 2015, Northwest scored in the fully accredited range on state report cards after years at the unaccredited level. This year the high school’s performance slipped down to provisional.

Cote Brilliante Elementary also scored in the provisional range this year and has a little less than half the students it needs to hit capacity. Langston Middle School would be considered unaccredited if it were scored independently on the state report card. It has 176 students enrolled, with space for 507.

The other seven schools on the district’s list have similarly low enrollment and shaky performance records, but Adams has recommended transformation plans for those buildings instead of consolidation.

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille