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Saint Louis Public Schools votes to 'pause' on closing Sumner High, other schools

The board said it will reconsider the closures at its Jan. 12 meeting

ST. LOUIS — After backlash from parents, non-profits and politicians, the board of Saint Louis Public Schools voted to temporarily halt a vote to close ten public schools, including the historic Sumner High Tuesday night. 

Over the past decade, enrollment in the district has dropped from about 60,000 students to around 45,000, Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams told the school board. 

For more than a year SLPS has debated closing buildings because of that drop in enrollment. 

"We simply can not provide the services ... to all of the schools that we have," Adams told the school board. "We just simply can't do it." 

Adams told the board that closing ten school buildings would save the district $3 million -- money that could pay for more services for students like counselors, social workers, and senior internships.

But Tuesday night, when the decision on school closures was expected, Adams asked the school board to "pause" for 30 days to allow more time to answer questions and consider any other solutions.

Over the past few weeks since the district announced the schools that could be closed, Adams and the board have heard from protesting parents and politicians -- from St. Louis mayoral candidates to a resolution from the Board of Aldermen, to Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush, all calling for Sumner High and other schools to stay open. 

Adams said he will clear his holiday schedule to meet with anyone who has "concrete" alternatives to closing school buildings. 

"This is not about rhetoric. This is not about telling me what you think. This is not about...looking back," Adams said about those who have recently weighed-in with public statements. "This is about real resources with details."

The board said it will reconsider the closures at its Jan. 12 meeting and said that will be a "hard deadline" for a decision.