EAST ST. LOUIS — School District 189 will keep Miles Davis School open after all.
The school board voted Tuesday to keep the school at 725 N 15th St. open, even though closing it would have saved the district money. The school is home to a kindergarten center and ninth grade center and has about 500 students.
"It is the first time in at least five years that students will not be required to move due to school closures," said Beth Shepperd, spokeswoman for District 189.
Superintendent Arthur Culver, school board members and members of the Financial Oversight Panel in the end did not want to see students and staff disrupted. Culver said he was grateful, nevertheless, that the panel allowed the district to at least explore the idea.
Financial Oversight Panel member Milton Wharton, a former St. Clair County judge, opposed closing the school just to save money.
"There appears to be an agreement that educating kindergartners at one location is the most effective and efficient option that permits a concentration of resources and avoids a duplication of services. ...
"Consideration (of finances) should never be permitted to take precedence over what's in the educational best interest of our children," he said.
Wharton added that closing the school would have resulted most likely in another vacant building in the city that would be destroyed by vandals and be another lost asset for the financially strapped district.
Had the move been approved, kindergartners would be returned to the schools in their neighborhoods. And fifth graders would have been moved to the middle school. But, they would have a separate wing with different start up and dismissal times. And, they would have had their own bus.
Mamie Cosey, who opposed closing the school, thanked district leaders for their decision.
"I am not alone in this. There are so many parents who were concerned about Miles Davis closing. I think the superintendent made the right decision for the children. I am very appreciative to him for his decision. The children at Miles Davis are doing so well. The school should be a model for other schools," Cosey said.
Cosey has a fourth grade special-needs daughter who would have eventually had to go to the middle school. Cosey said her daughter would not remain in District 189 if she had to go to the middle school because "it was inappropriate for my child to go there based on her age and ability."
"She doesn't need to be exposed to inappropriate language and attitudes that some teens display. They are going through puberty and are just too advanced. My daughter needs to stay with her own age group. It's the parents' responsibility to protect their children. You have to choose what is right for your child," Cosey said.
Shepperd said district officials will continue to work to find ways to cut $3 million from the budget, as directed by the financial oversight panel.
"Personnel cuts and other reductions have reduced the budget in order to account for any possible enrollment decline. Community members have expressed gratitude for the decision to stabilize schools and keep fifth grade students at the elementary schools," Shepperd said.
Lonzo Greenwood, president of the school board, said he was on board with keeping Miles Davis open He said he is glad that things worked out as they did and looks forward to the continued progress of the students at Miles Davis.