(KMOV.com) -- Superintendent Kelvin Adams addressed the St. Louis Public School Board Wednesday evening as he laid out his proposals to reduce costs within the district.
Dr. Adams recommended closing five schools and reducing another. In addition, the superintendent proposed reducing 134 positions, 82 of which are teachers. He also proposed introducing an early separation incentive plan for 115 employees who are eligible for retirement- aged 65 or older.
Adams recommends the same incentive plan for the 286 employees who are eligible for early retirement.
Among the schools recommended to close are Sherman Elementary, L’Ouverture Middle School, Fresh Start South, Multiple Pathways Alternative, and Cleveland NJROTC.
The Multiple Pathways high school program would be moved to Beaumont High School, and Cleveland NJROTC would be closed over the next three years- accepting no new ninth graders starting in the 2013-2014 school year.
At Beaumont High, the recommendation is to reduce eleventh grade. Only twelfth grade will remain for the 2013-14 school year.
Part of the district's revenue crisis comes from a drop in student numbers. SLPS had 27,574 students enrolled in ‘08 and just 22,516 in ‘12. In 2003, The number was around 40,000. Charter schools in the city had 9,507 students enrolled in ‘09, and 9,159 in the current school year.
Currently, there are 21 St. Louis Public schools at less than 60% capacity.
“If you don’t have students, you don’t get dollars to fund those students,” Dr. Adams said.
The declining enrollment is hurting schools that are performing well. For example, the NJROTC, one of the schools slated to close, has a graduation rate of 100%. Adams acknowledged the school does well academically but says there are simply not enough students applying to the program program.
In addition to declining students, other costs are beginning to add up. The district is required by law to put homeless students who live outside SLPS boundaries in cabs, a cost of $1.9 million per year.
Another cost, according to Adams, is school social workers. The ratio in the SLPS district is one worker to 800 students.
The upcoming sequestration deadline is another hurdle facing the district. Superintendent Adams says SLPS will lose $800,000 in funding if lawmakers don't make a deal by Friday.
The board is only listening to Dr. Adams’ proposal Wednesday. The superintendent expects the board will vote on the proposal March 14.
Parents are encouraged to comment at public forums on March 2 at Vashon High School from 10a.m.-12 p.m. and Central Visual Performing Arts High School from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m..