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Aldermen weigh in on school closing plan

(KWMU photo)\">
Special Administrative Board members Richard Gaines (L) and Rick Sullivan address members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Thursday

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Members of the appointed board overseeing the St. Louis Public Schools spent nearly three hours in front of an aldermanic committee Monday in what both sides hope is the first in a series of conversations about the district.

At least half of the Board of Aldermen attended at least part of the meeting, which focused on recommendations to close 29 schools. Aldermen do not have any control over the district, but Special Administrative Board member Richard Gaines said they play a very important role in its operation.

"We are aware that decisions made by the SAB impact your wards just as decisions you make as a legislative body affect the operations of the St. Louis Public Schools," he said.

Alderwoman Dionne Flowers chairs the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which invited the SAB members. She says she was expecting to hear from the management company that made the initial recommendations, "but I think what we got today was a little more what we were looking for as far as them open and honest to answering the questions," she said.

Many aldermen were concerned about a proposal to relocate the Naval Junior ROTC high school program from Pruitt High School to Vashon High School. They are also upset that many schools closed in past rounds remain vacant.

Gaines says SAB members will incorporate the aldermen's suggestions and concerns into the SAB's version of the school closure plan. That is expected to be unveiled on Thursday - a final decision could come March 12th.


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