Hazelwood district looks at options for middle school with shrinking enrollment

The Hazelwood School District may move East Middle School, which has seen decreasing enrollment in recent years, to part of a high school to save money.

The district is also considering closing the middle school entirely or transforming it into a magnet school.

East Middle’s enrollment has dropped from 500 in 2013-2014 to 412 this year.

“Leaving it as it is is just not sustainable,” said Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart at Monday’s School Board meeting. “It’s too expensive, it’s not a good use of facility and it does not address something that is long-term looming in this corridor.”

An official recommended Monday that the district move East Middle, 1865 Dunn Road, to its own section of East High School, 11300 Dunn Road, possibly with a separate entrance.

There are currently 1,280 students at East High, compared to 1,999 at Central High School and 2,225 at West High School.

East High School has the space to house the middle school, and two more security officers would be hired for middle students’ safety, Jeff Haug, assistant superintendent for middle school education, told the board Monday.

The move would let the district right size support staff for the middle school and save $200,000 for the next school year, in addition to $800,000 saved by reallocating teaching staff. Haug said it would also allow middle school students to take high school-level courses.

Haug presented three other options for the middle school: keeping it as it is but reallocating teaching staff to save $800,000; transforming it into a magnet school, which would cost an additional $1.6 million for the 2018-2019 school year; or closing the school to save $3.4 million in 2018.

The board will vote on the options at its Feb. 7 meeting.

The district is currently holding a series of budget subcommittee meetings with members of the public to prioritize cuts to be made for the next school year.

A preliminary budget, including budget cuts, will be sent to the board for consideration in April. The end of the budget timeline is June 20, when the School Board will vote on the budget.