• Mann, Shenandoah schools in St. Louis to remain open, superintendent recommends

    By Valerie Schremp Hahn
    vhahn@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8246

    ST. LOUIS • Shenandoah and Mann Elementary Schools in south St. Louis will be renovated and will remain open, based on a recommendation Thursday night by St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams.

    The initial recommendation from a 2009 study was that both schools be closed and a new school built, but improvements in enrollment, academics and community support since then have influenced his decision, Adams said.

    The proposed renovations would cost more than $1.38 million, and include work on the roofs, improvements to flooring and foundations, and burglar alarms. Adams said he hopes the improvements would attract more students, though Shenandoah is almost at capacity and more are enrolling at Mann.

    The School Board would only have to take a final vote if Adams had recommended closing the schools, a spokesman said. The board will have to vote on construction packages and financial details.

    Shenandoah, at 3412 Shenandoah Avenue, is in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. Mann, at 4047 Juniata Street, is in Tower Grove South. Community forums held in November about the fate of the schools attracted 79 attendants.

    Board member Richard Gaines said that more community support is needed, and that people need to be concerned with more than the historic significance of the schools.

    “My issue is trying to understand what makes you think that community will do any more to support Mann and Shenandoah.”

    Mann parent Maryanne Dersch said parents need to promote the schools. “As we are talking to people about these schools, they’re learning how wonderful they are, and once we get them through the door, they’re sold.”

    The Rev. Teresa Danieley of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tower Grove South said she plans to send her two children to Mann in a few years.

    “This is an answer to our prayer,” she said after hearing the recommendation. “We want to keep our neighborhoods strong.”

    Valerie Schremp Hahn covers nightside public safety for the Post-Dispatch.  Follow her on Twitter at @valeriehahn.