MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Parents packed a school board meeting in St. Paul Tuesday night — one week after the district announced it might close four elementary schools and a high school because of low enrollment — to urge the board to vote the proposal down.

Dozens packed multiple overflow rooms for public comment, which was promptly cut off after 30 minutes, upsetting some who felt they were not being heard.

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“They could’ve shown at least good faith in listening to the community by allowing, you know, even another 10, 15, 20 minutes,” said Gabriela Spears-Rico, a Wellstone Elementary parent.

Saint Paul Federation of Educators President Leah VanDassor was also on hand for the meeting.

“They’re here tonight, they’re wanting to know more about what’s going on and they want you to know that their building is an important building to keep open,” VanDassor said.

Outside, students told WCCO why they love their schools.

(credit: CBS)

“They can’t close it, you know, because Wellstone is more than just a community, it’s a family,” said student Rory Mahoney.

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Students from LEAP High School for ELL immigrants are worried future students will be left behind.

“I went to different high schools in the district and I felt like I did not belong,” said Cesar Mendez, a LEAP graduate who now attends the University of St. Thomas. “In that school I felt I was not a number, and at the other schools I was just a number. Other schools usually ignore ELL students like me.”

And parents from Wellstone, a Spanish immersion elementary school, are worried about how the potential changes will affect their children.

“The Spanish immersion students would have to go about 15 minutes away, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but for a bus ride that’s about 45 minutes to an hour,” Spears-Rico said. “It really felt like the doors were shut on us.”

There are more listening sessions planned for community voices to be heard, as the board decides the future of these schools.

The district says the 18 months of drafting this proposal included parent and staff involvement. The board is set to vote on this next month.

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Click here for more information on SPPS’s proposal.

Erin Hassanzadeh