ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – A St. Louis alderwoman wants to close the loophole that allows the St. Louis Public Schools to demolish any of its buildings without a chance for review or appeal by neighbors.
St. Louis Public Schools are exempt to the historic preservation ordinance.
SLPS is proposing to tear down an 87-year-old elementary school in the Tower Grove East neighborhood and replace it with a more modern structure that, neighbors fear, may not blend with the area.
Residents were joined by preservationists and city officials at a public forum at Roosevelt High School Wednesday night, where they heard the district’s proposal to either raze the structure or renovate it.
“Regardless of what the public thinks at the end of the day, SLPS can make their own decisions and they don’t have to adhere to the same oversight that everybody else does,” alderwoman Christine Ingrassia told KMOX News after the meeting.
Ingrassia says she thinks the district overplayed the reasons to build a new Shenandoah Elementary school and almost ignored the prospects of renovating it.
“There was no presentation whether or not a renovation and addition could offer students the same amenities that a brand new building could,” she said.
Both Shenandoah and Mann elementary have a long list of renovation needs, a consultant for the district said.
But Ingrassia told KMOX the district is ignoring that a LEED-certified renovation and expansion would cost exactly the same as building a new structure, while also saving a historic school building.
“In a perfect world we would be able to keep both Mann and Shenandoah elementary schools open,” she said. “But I am a realist and understand that SLPS has some gorgeous historically significant buildings, but not the population of students they once had.”
According to the Post Dispatch, plans have been on the books to build a new elementary school on the Shenandoah site at 3412 Shenandoah Ave. since 2009. The estimated $15 to $17 million project would allow for a building big enough for 600 children, including those at nearby Mann Elementary, which would close.