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SLPS board approves 2011 budget

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – The board overseeing the St. Louis Public Schools has approved a plan to close a $58 million gap in the 2011 budget for the district.

The budget approved Thursday without opposition closes six schools. The district is looking to save $34 million in personnel costs, and is trying to avoid layoffs through early retirement and letting go uncertified teachers. Some administrators are taking the equivalent of a 12 percent pay cut, and retirees will not get a three percent cost of living adjustment.

"We're getting down to tough decisions no matter what we do," superintendent Kelvin Adams said. "We're hoping in every single case to minimize the impact it will have on students."

Adams said he will prepare contingency budgets in case state funding is reduced.

"I'm not sure the hemorrhaging has stopped," he said. "Obviously the state dollars are drying up and reducing. I suspect that we may be at this place for several years to come based upon the economy."

Three of the six schools were on a list of possible closures last year. But Adams said he stands by the slimmed-down list eventually approved.

"Based on the data that we had last year, we believed that was the best decision to be made," he said. "I would not go back and change any decision that we made from last year at this time, no."

Despite the closures, Adams said he believes he kept a promise to hold the classroom "sacred."