ST. LOUIS • The 10 city district schools that double as community centers, offering services ranging from academic tutoring to dentist visits to yoga classes, will close their doors to these programs after today.
The community development block grants that made Community Education Full Service Schools possible ran out in December. Without the federal funds, which passed through City Hall, the St. Louis school system can no longer afford to keep them all open, said Stacy Clay, deputy superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools.
Four of them will reopen in August, but under a different model — one that focuses solely on improving the attendance, academic performance and behavior of students.
“Some services will be for the community at large, but with emphasis on student and their parents,” Clay said.
Those sites will be at Hamilton Elementary, Walbridge Elementary, Yeatman Middle and Vashon High schools — four of the lowest-performing schools in the city.
The district opened its first community education full-service schools in 1968, using a combination of district and city funds.
At one time, there were 16 of them, and city residents received a booklet of classes in the mail. That was eliminated in other budget cuts in recent years. Over the past three years, the district has closed a number of full service sites as the federal block grant dollars have dwindled.
St. Louis Public Schools will fully fund the four sites in the fall, using additional funds that will be directed toward the district’s worst-performing schools. Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the district worked to find other funding sources to keep the sites open — without success.
The new model inevitably will reduce the number of programs and people who participate at the four schools with services next year, said Curtis Royston III, the citywide chairman for community education, a volunteer position in St. Louis Public Schools. And this will be difficult for some city residents to swallow, he added.
“It’s always been community education, not just school-based education,” Royston said. “For us to make the shift to be solely focuses on the academic achievement of the children in that school will have a huge effect on the communities.”
Traditionally, full service community education sites also provide programs in the summer. These sites will stop offering the community programs after today, and aren’t expected to restart them in the fall: Clay Elementary, Long Middle, Lyon Academy at Blow, Mullanphy-Botanical Garden Elementary, Sigel Elementary, Shaw Visual Performing Arts Elementary.