ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - The fate of a small St. Louis magnet school was decided at Wednesday’s Special Administrative Board Meeting.
Last month, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams suggested several ways to balance the budget in the coming year, including closing several schools: L'Ouverture Middle School, Sherman Elementary School, and Cleveland NJROTC Academy.
On Wednesday, he presented his revised proposal to the Special Administrative Board. One by one, Adams read out which budget cuts he was keeping, and which he decided to change. Those rooting for Cleveland sat with baited breath. When he got to the school closures, he kept his recommendations to close L’Ouverture Middle School and Sherman Elementary, but changed his recommendation for Cleveland.
Keeping Cleveland open comes after a particularly strong push by alumni and students. The reason for the school’s slated closure was low enrollment, but last week, several alums presented a detailed plan to the superintendent to increase enrollment. Adams incorporated some of these suggested into his plan for Cleveland, including a more holistic approach to accepting students, and creating strong recruitment partnerships with several middle schools.
With some of these adjustments, next year’s freshman class is expected bring the school’s total enrollment from 266 this year to 330.
Adams says the alumni’s strong outreach was admirable, but it was ultimately not a deciding factor. He explains, “It wasn’t their passion that did it, it was the fact that they increased their numbers. They had a real plan that changed what happens in the school.”
Cleveland alumnus Damon Dortch is thrilled by the decision: “My first reaction was, I wanted to jump up and do a dance, but I kept my composure.”
To celebrate Cleveland staying open, alumni want to hold a spirit assembly at the school.
Still, these alums know the fight isn’t over yet. They plan to stay involved in recruitment efforts to make sure Cleveland continues to thrive. Alumna Carlynn Hudspeth explains, “We have to stay in the community...and just work closely with the school so we don’t wind up here again.”
Another idea to keep Cleveland populated, which will not be implemented in the coming school year, is to add 8th grade to the school.
Looking at the larger picture, Special Administrative Board Member Richard Gaines is pleased by the decision to keep the naval academy open: “When schools are performing well, whether or not they meet the requirements relative to numbers cannot be our major reason.”
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