Galtier Community School, which has suffered enrollment losses despite a major renovation, would close at the end of the 2016-17 school year under a recommendation announced Tuesday by St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva.
The district plans to work with the community to create a strong community school program at nearby Hamline Elementary, officials say.
The announcement came as a surprise to Clayton Howatt, a parent who has been leading a "Save Galtier" campaign and who had been led to believe, he said, that the district would be providing in writing a three-year plan for Galtier that would've had 2016-17 as its starting point.
He added that if the district is looking for help in planning a Galtier/Hamline merger, it can count him out.
A hearing and vote on whether to close Galtier will be held May 31.
Silva offered her recommendation to the school board Tuesday night. Jackie Turner, the district's chief engagement officer, then provided details about the school's enrollment struggles, which have continued even after a renovation that emphasized technology-enhanced learning.
The school has been hurt in some ways by a Strong Schools, Strong Communities plan that was supposed to strengthen neighborhood schools. That is because local parents also are given the option to send their students by bus to other district schools such as St. Anthony Park Elementary.
Turner said that 20 percent of Galtier students live in the school's attendance area. Randolph Heights Elementary, by comparison, attracts 83 percent of the kids in its area, she said.
To stay open, Galtier would require a subsidy, and as of Tuesday night, it was unclear whether a majority of board members would support such a move. Four members, however, either questioned how much it might cost or expressed disappointment with Silva's recommendation.
Board Member John Brodrick said that he would vote against the closure. He acknowledged that "school choice" is a reality, and that families have many options. But neighborhood schools suffer, as a result, he said, adding: "We have an obligation to make those schools a good choice to parents."