Connect with us

News

Board votes to close six St. Paul schools over two years, moving 2,040 students

Published

on

Board votes to close six St. Paul schools over two years, moving 2,040 students

The St. Paul school board voted Wednesday night to close five schools next fall and a sixth in 2023, displacing around 2,040 students in an effort to create larger and more “well-rounded” schools with greater appeal to parents.

“This is our chance to build a strong foundation,” board member Jessica Kopp said.

The consolidation is one-third smaller than what Superintendent Joe Gothard and his administration called for in October. It was apparent at a meeting Monday that most board members weren’t going to support the larger plan in the face of vocal opposition from three school communities in particular.

Those schools, LEAP High and Wellstone and Highwood Hills elementary schools, were spared from closure in the 5-2 vote Wednesday.

“I’m not proud of this vote,” said Yusef Carrillo, a short-term board member in his final meeting, who opposed the consolidation when it included his family’s school, Wellstone, but voted in favor of the modified plan Wednesday. “I know deep down that future compositions of the board will be hesitant to pick this up again and will have to pick up a worse version of this.”

The consolidation is a response to persistent enrollment declines — due largely to increased charter competition — that have only accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. The St. Paul district is down 3,500 students in the last three years — nearly 10 percent of its K-12 enrollment. The trend figures to continue in the coming years because of low birth rates in the city.

Gothard hoped he could turn things around by forming larger elementary schools, each with enough revenue to hire teacher specialists in the arts, social studies and gifted education, as well as a counselor, social worker and nurse.

Opposing the plan were John Brodrick and Zuki Ellis, both of whom also voted against a two-school merger in 2016. Brodrick said he expected opposition from families affected by the closures, but he heard broad complaints about the behind-the-scenes administrative process that produced the recommendations.

“We can never expect to halt declining enrollment until we restore trust,” he said.

FIVE TO CLOSE IN 2022

The schools that will close next fall are:

  • Galtier Elementary, whose 207 students are to merge with nearby Hamline as Galtier becomes an early learning hub.
  • Jackson Elementary, with 268 students. Some students would go to Maxfield, while those in the Hmong Dual Language Immersion program would merge at Phalen Lake.
  • Parkway Montessori Middle School, with 188 students. It would reopen immediately as the middle school for Phalen Lake’s Hmong studies students.
  • John A. Johnson Elementary, whose 258 students would merge at Bruce Vento and get a new building on the east half of the Vento property in the coming years.
  • L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion’s lower campus, sending its 150 students in grades pre-K-1 to the upper campus; the lower campus would become an early learning hub.

MONTESSORI MOVING, SPANISH ISN’T

The board also approved several entangled moves involving the fall 2023 closure of Obama Elementary, which has 250 students but a capacity of 875.

First, 173 students from Cherokee Heights Montessori would merge at JJ Hill’s Montessori program next year. Following a renovation, JJ Hill would close and move its students to Obama in either 2024 or 2025.

Also next fall, Cherokee Heights would become a community school, taking on 139 students from Riverview, the other West Side school.

However, breaking with Gothard’s recommendation, the district isn’t moving any new students into the West Side — leaving those campuses with 383 students divided across two buildings with a combined capacity of 1,120.

Riverview will continue to operate its two-way Spanish-English immersion program. But it will not take on immersion students from Wellstone.

Instead, Wellstone will remain open, keeping its 253-student Spanish-English immersion program and its 275 students on the BioSmart science side.

Board members balked at Gothard’s call to split up Wellstone, which already has a healthy enough enrollment to offer a well-rounded education.

SMALL SCHOOLS

LEAP High School, another program the school board saved, has 125 students, all recent immigrants. Gothard wanted to move them to existing language academies inside comprehensive high schools, but community members said students feel safer in their own alternative school.

In Highwood Hills, the school board saved a school with a capacity of 599 but just 196 enrolled — well short of what’s needed to have two classes per grade. Gothard’s administration had suggested closing the school and then working with nearby Somali-American families to create a more appealing school, but board members were not convinced.

The district today has roughly 16,000 students in elementary grades and room for around 8,000 more. The scaled-back consolidation will shrink elementary capacity by 2,100 — compared to about 3,800 in Gothard’s proposal.

TWO VOTES

Before the final vote on Wednesday, board member Jim Vue and Brodrick supported a failed motion to leave every school open in 2022.

Just before the meeting, Vue said, “My son came home from school and … said, ‘Dad, don’t close my school.’ I finally realized that I hadn’t really grappled with that I was closing his school.”

Board member Chauntyll Allen said she’s not looking forward to closing schools, but “I do know that we need to make some drastic changes. … Not closing right now could be detrimental to moving forward.”

google news

News

St. Charles man shot after suspect tried to steal car with child inside

Published

on

St. Charles man shot after suspect tried to steal car with child inside

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A St. Charles man was shot in the foot this morning after a stranger tried to steal his car while a three-year-old was inside.

The shooting took place in the 1000 block of Elmwood Drive at about 6:30 a.m.

Lt. Tom Wilkison with the St. Charles Police Department says a man was warming up his car in the garage and went inside briefly to grab a blanket for his child who was still in the car.

FOX 2’s Nissan Rogue Runner reporter Jason Maxwell was at the scene while police were investigating.

Police later told FOX2 that when he returned to the garage he heard a car door shut and a man running out of the garage. Investigators say the suspect made it to the road, turned around, then fired one shot at the resident hitting his foot.

Police say the suspect got into a light-colored SUV and drove off. The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Investigators also say they looked at nearby doorbell or surveillance video but it’s all too grainy or distorted to release.

google news
Continue Reading

News

What to know about Cole Bassett’s next stop at Feyenoord, Rotterdam: “You are supposed to win and play hard”

Published

on

What to know about Cole Bassett’s next stop at Feyenoord, Rotterdam: “You are supposed to win and play hard”

Cole Bassett couldn’t have found a much better landing spot to start his European dream.

The 20-year-old Littleton native has long wanted to make the jump overseas, but it took plenty of patience. He already made his fair share of lung-busting runs at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for his hometown team and will soon be making the same sorts of runs in an iconic stadium, while wearing the jersey of a famous European club in a city renowned for ingenuity, effort and resilience.

Bassett, a box-to-box midfielder who agreed to an 18-month loan Thursday, has every chance of fitting in with Feyenoord. It’s a club steeped in history with 15 Eredivisie titles and three European trophies, located in a country known for inventing the “total football” philosophy of the 1970s, which still has a strong lineage to the modern game.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a professor at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, who was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Belgium. He worked as a soccer writer for ESPN, Yahoo, and Fox Sports, and regularly connected the sport back to his Dutch roots. Schaerlaeckens, who grew up supporting rival Ajax, touched on a few key points for Rapids fans who might want to learn more about the Eredivise, Feyenoord and Rotterdam in the course of an interview with The Denver Post earlier this week.

“What you tend to see is lots of scoring, lots of attacking and by and large not very good defending,” Schaerlaeckens said. “So, for someone who’s got a few goals in him, it’s not at all a bad place to be.”

Rapids General Manager Pádraig Smith believes the move suits Bassett well.

“This is one of the storied European clubs and one of the big three in the Netherlands,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be a challenge for Cole, but it’s the right one for his career and I’m really excited to see what he makes of it.”

What can turn a good player into a Feyenoord legend comes down to industry and effort.

That was never an issue with Bassett while he was a Burgundy Boy. He logged over 4,500 minutes, made 52 starts and played in 72 matches, in addition to his 13 goals and nine assists.

“The contrast between Ajax and Feyenoord is that Feyenoord fans expect above all, really, they expect effort,” Schaerlaeckens said. “Where at Ajax you are supposed to win and play beautifully. At Feyenoord, you are supposed to win and play hard and run hard … It’s a team where the culture surrounding it has always emphasized and celebrated toil and hard work; players who are just really spent by the time the game is over or they’re subbed off.”

The city’s motto — translated to “stronger through effort” — encapsulates those values in one phrase. The motto was adopted after Rotterdammers rebuilt following World War II, after the Germans bombed the city and made it almost unrecognizable.

While Bassett is there for soccer, he can certainly take in a few traits from Rotterdam itself. Still among the busiest port cities in Europe, it carries a sense of ingenuity, which came to fruition through its post-war rebirth in the form of spectacular architecture. Thinking outside the box is encouraged.

“That also created this spirit of rejuvenation, of reinvention, and reconstruction that really becomes obvious when you drive around it or walk through it,” Schaerlaeckens said. “It’s an incredibly modern city because on the one hand, it is hundreds of years old, but on the other hand it was basically built after 1945. So that’s really allowed for this innovative spirit to take root there.”

google news
Continue Reading

News

2 homes about one mile from each other on fire in south St. Louis

Published

on

2 homes about one mile from each other on fire in south St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (KTVI)–A Missouri lawmaker wants to put the brakes on a local government’s ability to require businesses to install charging stations for electric vehicle charging stations, as municipal efforts ramp up in anticipation of greater demand.

The city of St. Louis and St. Louis county have already passed ordinances which require businesses, especially with new construction, to include electric vehicle charging stations. Brentwood just passed one last month.

google news
Continue Reading

Trending