The St. Louis Public Schools have unveiled their plans to cope with a possible influx of students from the shuttered Imagine charter schools.
Superintendent Kelvin Adams says more than 1,200 of Imagine’s 3,500 students have applied to attend St. Louis Public Schools next year. He says if enough parents are interested, the district will open as many as six new buildings that would allow Imagine students to stay together.
"We would have to fill the schools," Adams said. "They would have to be at about 80-90 percent capacity for us to look at doing that. So a school that would fit 500, we wouldn't do it for 200 kids. It would be cost-prohibitive for us to do that. But if the demand is what people say it is, that should happen quickly."
The new schools would open in buildings that currently house alternative programs, which would be consolidated elsewhere.
Adams says most of the students from the Imagine schools will be elementary and middle school students, but expects the high schoolers will be the most interested in staying together.
"You have seniors who are graduating, have been in the school for four years, they want to be with their senior class," he said. "They don't know the culture of the schools that they would be going into."
The influx of Imagine students could cost the district as much as $13.5 million, according to a presentation by Adams. But he's not worried about the district's finances.
"More students means more dollars," he said. "It just depends how much more." And he said the state appears set to provide logistical and financial help, and will work with the district on accreditation issues. Academic achievement is one of the key elements for the district to regain state certification, but the Imagine schools often under-performed the public schools.