St. Paul school board votes to close 5 schools

The St. Paul Board of Education voted Wednesday night to close five schools over the next two school years.

The Envision St. Paul Public Schools plan was approved by a 5-2 vote. Among the schools closing will be:

  • Galtier Elementary School, 1317 Charles Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55104
  • Jackson Preparatory Elementary School, 437 Edmund Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55103
  • John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary, 740 York Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55106
  • Parkway Montessori and Community Middle School, 1363 Bush Avenue, Saint Paul, MN55106
  • Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary, 707 Holly Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55104 (Closing at the end of the 2022-23 school year).

The move comes as the district faces declining enrollment, including "8,000 empty seats." By closing the schools, board members argue the district can focus more resources on successful programs.

The board's original plan called for nine schools to close. But at a meeting on Tuesday, where members heard from members of the public, the board opted to downsize the closures to five. A sixth school, L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion School’s lower campus will relocate to the upper campus to merge both campuses at one location. The saved schools were Highwood Hills Elementary, which the district kept open due to the neighborhood's "geographic isolation", Wellstone Spanish Dual Immersion and BioSmart programs because of its "sustainable enrollment size" and LEAP High School which the district will assess to find a way to keep it sustainable.

The school board says the Envision plan will allow the district to allocate its resources based on program effectiveness and give more help to programs.

"The School District considered alternatives to the closing schools but determined that the closures were necessary to address effectively the identified concerns that have arisen due to declining enrollment, the underutilization of school buildings, and the unsustainability of the schools identified for closure," a release from the district reads.

At Wednesday's meeting, dissenting board members attempted to pass a motion to block any school closings in the next school year but that measure failed by the same margin, 2-5.

The closure plan has faced significant pushback from parents.