ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– The St. Louis Public Schools are putting forth ideas on how they plan to incorporate as many as 2,500 students from Imagine charter schools ordered closed by the state of Missouri last month. The situation is full of challenges, but also has school administrators talking about expansion for the first time in recent memory.
At a meeting of the city’s school board Thursday night, Alisha Franklin sat in the audience with three kids, all wearing Imagine school uniforms. Her single goal is to keep them together in the same school.
“It’s very unsettling,” she said. “Being a single parent raising two plus one children. Raising my niece for the last four years. And the biggest thing right now is their education.”
She is among hundreds of parents looking for new schools for their kids. The district is telling them that if enough from each of the three imagine schools commit to the district, they will be kept together, with schools being re-purposed, or even re-opened to accommodate them. But the clock is ticking to get those commitments.
“The intent is by the end of this month the decision will be made to open schools or not open schools based upon the numbers that indicate they would like that as an option,” Superintendent, Dr. Kelvin Adams told the board. “If fifty kids indicate they would like to go to Meda P as a school, we would not do that. We need s substantial number of students.”
That has Franklin saying she will be actively recruiting other parents to choose the city school district.
“My focus is getting the parents of Imagine to rally together so we can get the support of the school board so we can stay as a whole,” she said.
Paying the bill has some worried. District projections have the incorporation of new students costing as much as $13 million. That’s money Dr. Adams is confident the state will help the district come up with.
“They’re gonna be really responsive to working with us,” he said. “They realize this is an unusual situation and they’re gonna work with us for the best solution for kids.”
But at least one board member, Richard Gaines, fears the district will be left with orders from the state, and no cash to execute them with. An unfunded mandate, so to speak.
“We will be hopeful in their deliberation they will understand and they can do what they can do. And what they can’t do, we will have to do,” he said.
All this will have to be worked out in about ninety days. That’s a very short period of time, but Adams says he’s comfortable in a somewhat uncertain situation.
Asked if this is “winging it,” he said, “I wouldn’t use the word, ‘wing it.’ What I would say is we did this in New Orleans after Katrina on a regular basis. So while this may seem like winging it for most people, for us or for me it’s just responding to what the needs are. “
For a look at the presentation Adams gave to the board, go here