Have you ever wondered what happened to Monroe High School and how it developed into today’s Monroe-Linwood school? Dave Bredemus is a local West 7th Street historian and someone who taught at Monroe School for 25 years. He is also a strong advocate for keeping the Monroe name and helping Monroe return to its West 7th Street community roots. You will find that the current Monroe name change issue is only the latest of Monroe school battles.
Monroe High School Closes in 1977
After Monroe High School closed in 1977, Monroe evolved into a community school, with the name changed to Monroe Community School. Here is a timetable of those events.
1977 -Monroe Senior High closed
1978-The Monroe building became Monroe Junior High grades seven through nine.
1980 -The school district announced that Monroe Junior High is closing next year and there will be no school program at the school.
1981 – West 7th Community and the Federation District Council organized to save the school. It became a very contentious battle with many protests and petitions. The community came up with a solution that shocks the school board. The neighborhood told the school board and Superintendent David Bennett that they can close Adams and Jefferson schools in the West 7th neighborhood, but keep Monroe open. The leadership at Adams led by Linda Martin gets the PTA to agree and the PTA at Jefferson agrees to close their school led by PTA president Lori Hosley.
The neighborhood had a few conditions. First, it will be a K8 school and second that the school will be called Monroe Community School. The curriculum will incorporate the neighborhood and the community as an equal partner in planning the new school. The St. Paul school district agrees with the neighborhood plan but is not as happy about having a K8 school in their system. It is very hesitant about having a community school. The school district shrinks the attendance boundaries from Montreal Street to Otto and gives only lukewarm support for the neighborhood effort to save Monroe.
Monroe Community School
1982 to 1987 -Monroe Community School under the direction of Principal Gordy Chervey gets off to a shaky start but as the years go by the school keeps improving. One problem is the building was built for 800 kids and the attendance is around 450. The school district refuses to expand the attendance area and decides to fill the school with reassignment children from across the city and Special Ed students.
1987 to 1993 -The Community learning piece at Monroe was developed during this period with community education classes in the evenings and after school activities at Monroe. Special grants from United Hospital to involve all the schools parochial, private and public in the West 7th Neighborhood to participate together in special learning programs at Monroe are tremendously successful.
1994 to 2005- The community learning at Monroe is fully developed during this period with a large grant from the Wilder Foundation which added an addition to the front of Monroe Community School and many other physical additions to the building. The Wilder money was also used to provide learning opportunities and support services for all families and learners in the neighborhood from morning until night. Along with before and after school programs for kids were additional programs such as:
- Family School Learning Together
- Dental care
- Family counseling services
- Early childhood education
These services and many other services made Monroe Community School a success.
2005 to 2010- As outside money dried up and attendance continued to drop because of demographics in the neighborhood, the school district decided during to develop a new emphasis at the school. It would change the focus from community learning to the arts. The school district also did something the community asked for from the very beginning to expand the attendance area. The Monroe attendance area would incorporate the Crocus Hill neighborhood. The school population took on more middle-class families. The school had some success with strong leadership from a new principal and students from Crocus Hill.
2010 to present- Monroe Linwood A+ today has a student body with only 20% from the West 7th Street neighborhood. A large percentage of the student body comes from outside the neighborhood. The school needs more students. The school today is an island in the neighborhood. Working together, there are opportunities to reconnect to the community learning aspect that was so successful at Monroe Community School. The neighborhood has changed and many more middle-class families moving into the area that potentially could attend Monroe Linwood+ with new neighborhood school relationships.