New Plans to Ax More St. Louis Public Schools, Create More Charters

Is our children learning?
Is our children learning?

The charter school movement is continuing to gain steam in St. Louis -- raising the question of whether a day might come when traditional public schools cease to exist in the city.

Over the weekend, a plan to close more poorly performing public schools and create more city-sponsored charter schools was jointly proposed by the district superintendent and the head of the local teachers union. The meeting was covered in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Under the proposal, which the board will need to approve next month, the charter schools would lease vacant district property and operate under performance standards established and monitored by the district, reversing previous policy. Mayor Slay has previously advocated for more charter schools, to the dismay of some public school advocates.

The new charter schools would open in the next year or two. It's unclear whether the employees of charter schools could join the union.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams will also ask the board to approve the following by the fall, as reported by the P-D and others:

• The creation of 25 new early childhood education classrooms to serve about 350 more city residents. • An elementary school, kindergarten through third grade, centered on an African-American curriculum. • Multiple single-gender elementary and middle schools. • Smaller "alternative pathways" schools for students who have not performed well in traditional schools.

The future of the St. Louis public schools has been in jeopardy since 2007, when control was seized by the Missouri State Board of Education, which stripped the district of its accreditation. The board instituted a three-member panel appointed by the governor, mayor and president of the Board of Alderman to run the public schools.

Last year, the city shuttered six schools, cutting almost 500 jobs.

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