St. Paul School Board votes to close and merge schools



Painful cuts forced by the “current reality of registrations”

The St. Paul School Board voted 5-2 on Dec. 1 to approve a revised version of Envision SPPS, a series of school closures and mergers intended to address declining enrollment and provide “education. comprehensive ”at the district level.

The move will result in the closure of five schools at the end of the 2021-2022 school year and one next year. Envision SPPS has an impact on 2,165 students, or 6% of the district’s enrollment, with a higher rate of black students affected than the district average.

Many parents in attendance for the vote declined to comment on the MSR, citing overwhelming feelings of exhaustion and disappointment. The decision follows weeks of emotional testimony from families and educators in St. Paul who filled out public hearings against the proposal.

“I know that no matter what the data says, closing a school is traumatic for students, families and staff,” St. Paul Superintendent Joe Gothard wrote in a statement. “Closing schools is the last thing I, members of my management team or members of the board of directors, want to do. But when the current reality of our enrollment negatively impacts our ability to provide every student with the education and services they need and deserve, something needs to change.

At the meeting, board members expressed how difficult the decision was to make. Board member Jim Vue sought and failed to pass a motion delaying closings for another year.

“It doesn’t stop there. You’ve been heard, ”said Janelle Foster, board member, addressing families of the many concerns expressed during weeks of public comment.

In response to community outcry, board members on Monday announced a revised version of Envision SPPS that removed three schools originally slated for closure: Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary School, Highwood Hills Elementary School and the LEAP high school.

They cited the geographic isolation of the Highwood Hills neighborhood, the enduring number of students enrolled in Wellstone, and LEAP’s unique program.

Community members welcomed the changes in a public hearing on Nov. 30, while warning the school board of its priorities.

Jim Hilbert, Chair of the St. Paul NAACP Education Committee, said, “The district faces significant challenges that go beyond a well-balanced education. He pointed out that the SPPS risked exacerbating racial segregation in the midst of an ongoing trial.

The parts of the proposal that remain, according to the Council, include:

  • The Cherokee Heights Montessori program moves and merges with JJ Hill Montessori and Cherokee Heights reopens as a community school.
  • JJ Hill Montessori moves to Obama site after remodeling is complete, fall 2024 or fall 2025

● Galtier primary school closes and merges with Hamline.

● John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary School closes and merges with Bruce Vento.

● Jackson Preparatory Elementary School community program closes and merges with Maxfield.

● Jackson Preparatory Elementary School Hmong language merges at Phalen Lake.

● The lower Etoile du Nord French Immersion (LNFI) closes and merges with the upper LNFI campus

● Parkway Montessori and Community Middle School closes and reopens as the upper campus of the Hmong Language Immersion and Culture program

● The Riverview West Side School of Excellence community program closes and merges into Cherokee.

The district plans to reallocate closed sites for early childhood programs, community partnerships and temporary spaces during construction.

School officials say they expect more parent engagement and studies conducted regarding implementation, but students in closed and amalgamated schools will be given priority placement in the school of their choice. .


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