by Michael R. Allen
On Tuesday, the St. Louis Beacon published an article by Dale Singer covering a presentation by Superintendent Kelvin Adams on the state of the troubled St. Louis Public Schools. Not surprising, perhaps, is the prediction by Adams that more school closings are ahead. Singer writes:
Of the district’s buildings — 74 currently in use, 39 decommissioned — the average age is 75 years, he said, ranging from six years to 132. Last year more than a dozen schools were closed, down from the 29 closings that a consulting firm had recommended, but more are certain to be on the closing list this time around.
Mann School in Tower Grove South, previously considered for demolition and replacement or closure, likely will again be threatened with closure. Given the district’s financial state, however, demolition and construction of new school buildings seems unlikely.
That the average age of a city school building is 75 years means that the average city school student attends class in a historic neighborhood school. While that fact alone does not produce desired educational outcome, it is reassuring. Our students are interacting with their city’s heritage and most are attending class in humane buildings with ample natural light, ventilation and classroom space. Imagine if the troubled district was mostly housed in the bleak, low-ceiling, fluorescent-lit educational hot-houses being built today. Performance could be much worse.