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Historic Sumner High has six months to improve

By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO –
St. Louis' historic Sumner High School is being given six months to improve or risk being shut down at the end of the school year. St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams outlined eight goals Thursday night all of which must be met, he said, for Sumner to remain open as a high school.

The benchmarks include increasing the attendance rate to 85 percent, reducing student suspensions by 10 percent and graduating all 90 students still enrolled as seniors.

Adams said the district is in the process of applying similar benchmarks to its other troubled high schools Vashon, Roosevelt and Beaumont.

"Sumner is just the tip of the iceberg," said Adams. "We are presently putting plans in place for those other schools. Those schools will probably see those things put in place next school year."

Sumner has been plagued by low attendance rates, fights and an abysmal graduation rate of about 30 percent. Adams said Sumner's status as the first black high school west of the Mississippi isn't more important than the education of its students.

"It is extremely important to me," Adams said. "I understand that some people think that it is not important to me that Sumner survives and remains as a historic school. What's as important though is what happens to those students every single day."

If Sumner does not meet the goals, Adams said the building may be used for something else.