Flat enrollment and the lingering recession may force St. Louis Public Schools to close four of its schools.
That’s according to a 2013-14 budget proposal presented to the Special Administrative Board Wednesday night by Superintendent Kelvin Adams.
Even though four schools could be closed, the public comment period at the board meeting was full of Cleveland Junior Naval Academy students like Erik Harrison.
In full uniform, Harrison and his classmates pleaded with the board to spare the military prep school.
“To shut down a school that’s successful is like shutting down a business because it has overstock,” Harrison said. “I believe that it’s wrong.”
Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the school’s academics are impressive, which includes a 100 percent graduation rate, but added there’s not much hope. He pointed to declining student enrollment as the key factor in his recommendation.
“I don’t know what they can say at this point in time since we’ve tried a number of different things,” Adams said. “I would definitely be willing to listen and look at any kind of plan of action that we would be provided this Saturday, or even one-on-one with the PTO or PTA to give me a better idea of getting more kids…ultimately, more kids in the school.”
Adams wants to gradually phase out the school over three years, which he said will ultimately save the district $594,000.
Other budget cutting measures include eliminating 134 positions and encouraging early retirement. Adams said it is especially important to make the cuts now and build up the district's financial reserves as it makes a push toward full accreditation. In the end, he said having extra money in the reserve fund will help the district weather future financial turmoil.
The savings fall into these four categories:
- Staffing reductions, $9.4 million
- Early retirement, $1.2 million
- Non-workforce efficiencies, $2.2 million
- School closings and consolidations, $1.8 million
Spending increases include:
- Transportation for two different “bell” or school start times, $5.7 million
- Adding a bio-medical high school, $500,000
This Saturday, the district will host town hall meetings on the proposed budget at Vashon High School from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. and at Central VPA High School from 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm.
The board will likely cast a final vote on the budget on March 14.
Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd