The school board voted to allow this year's juniors to graduate next year as the St. Paul high school's final class.
Arlington High School's juniors will be able to graduate from the school next spring as the final graduating class, under a measure passed by the St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education Wednesday evening.
The vote on Arlington's future brought to a close more than a week of intense community and board meetings, hundreds of e-mails and multiple plans, all focused on helping the district close a $27 million budget deficit for next year. About eight schools will be closed or combined with other schools.
Arlington will become the next home of nearby Washington Technology Middle School, which will move in this fall, operate as a technology-focused secondary school and house grades seven through 10, along with Arlington's last senior class. Board members also ordered that the senior class next year must have at least 150 students, the minimum required to sustain a viable high school program.
Wednesday's meeting was an extension of a marathon session Tuesday night that was filled with alternately raucous and tearful students, parents and community members who pleaded with board members to keep Arlington open.
Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva had initially planned to save $970,000 by closing Arlington's high school program. Essentially, Wednesday's decision reduces the savings to $443,000 for next year in a move that will allow the school's 172 students who would be seniors next year the chance to finish their high school years at Arlington. The board rejected a proposal that would have allowed current sophmores to stay at Arlington until they graduated.
Mary Cathryn Ricker, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, said though she wasn't satisfied with all the changes the board and Silva made to the original recommendations, she appreciated the superintendent's willingness to collaborate. "What is not lost on me is there is clearly an intent to share decisionmaking power while still leading," Ricker said.
Gregory A. Patterson • 612-673-7287