St. Louis Public Schools

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St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) is the school district that operates public schools in the City of St. Louis. With a 2005 enrollment of approximately 33,000 students it is the largest public school district in the state of Missouri.

Leadership

The current superintendent of the St. Louis School District is Dr.Kelvin Adams.

The St. Louis Public School District has had ongoing problems with its elected school board, repeated failing test scores among students at most schools, financial difficulties, and a revolving door of Superintendents.

On March 23, 2007, the Missouri State Board of Education voted 5-1 to strip the St. Louis Public Schools of their accreditation and to take over their management, effective June 15, 2007. The vote came after and in spite of angry students chanting "No Takeovers!" temporarily shutting down the meeting. Under the board's decision, a transitional, three-person board, one nominated by the Governor (subject to Missouri Senate confirmation), one nominated by the Mayor of St. Louis (no confirmation required), and one nominated by the President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen (no confirmation required). The locally elected board will remain in place but have no power, and local board elections will continue as required by Missouri law.[1] The local board is appealing the state board decision to the state Commissioner of Education, D. Kent King.[2]

History

Beginnings

The first Public Schools in St. Louis opened in 1838 with an enrollment of 175 pupils. From 1840 to 1850, the population in St. Louis more than quadrupled, so that by 1860, the city had twenty-three elementary schools, plus a new high school. By the end of the 1860-61 school year, the enrollment was 12,166; school closed six weeks early that year due to a lack of operating funds and the outbreak of the Civil War.

The St. Louis Public High School, later known as Central High School, opened in 1853, and was the first public high school west of the Mississippi; the St. Louis Public Schools also opened the first public high school for Black students west of the Mississippi, Sumner High School, in 1875.

St. Louis Public Schools also opened the first public Kindergarten in North America in 1873 under the direction of William Torrey Harris, then Superintendent of Schools, and Miss Susan Blow, who had studied the methods of Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the kindergarten system.

1900s to 1930s

By the turn of the century (1900), the population in St. Louis was 575,238. Public school enrollment was 62,797, employing 1,665 teachers in ninety schools.

Another St. Louis 'first' was the Educational Museum, which featured articles purchased from the 1904 World's Fair Palace of Education. The Museum opened in 1905 and later (1943) evolved into the first audiovisual department in the United States.

The public schools continued to grow with the city, opening special 'Open Air' schools for children at risk for tuberculosis, schools for deaf children and those needing individualized instruction, as well as children with orthopedic disabilities.

The first vocational school had opened in 1868, with two more opening in the 1920s.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, special programs such as free milk and lunches, and sewing classes were established to help families and conserve resources; teacher salaries were reduced, construction was postponed, and class sizes were increased.

Students aided the War effort during both World War I and World War II by knitting scarves and socks for soldiers, raising poultry, cultivating Victory Gardens, collecting scrap metal, and buying war stamps.

1950s to Present

By the 1950s a number of new schools were built to ease overcrowding, and in the 1960s, more attention was given to meeting the challenges of urban schools, including racial equality, poverty, overcrowded classrooms, and deteriorating school buildings. St. Louis Public Schools attained its peak enrollment of 115,543 students in 1967.

Since then, efforts have focused on programs such as magnet schools and the Voluntary Interdistrict Transfer Program which were initiated to provide students with the opportunity to attend racially mixed schools.

Enrollment during the 2006-2007 academic year was 32,833 pupils in 93 schools.

Schools

High Schools

There are 16 high schools in the district.

Middle Schools

There are 19 middle schools in the district.

Primary Schools

There are 55 primary schools in the district.

2008 Sale of Vacant Schools

On February 27th, 2008, the sale of seven vacant school buildings was announced, with the total prices nearing $7 million. The plan, as of 2/29/08, is to market the buildings for 5 weeks, and make bids from developers and the public due by the first week of April.

The seven are the Old Hodgen School at 2730 Eads Ave.; Jackson School at 1632 Hogan St.; Eliot School at 4242 Grove St.; Central High School at 3616 North Garrison Ave.; Hempstead Elementary at 5872 Minerva Ave.; Garfield School at 3200 Texas Ave.; and Euclid Branch at 5057 Ridge Ave.

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