One St. Louis Charter School to Close, Another in Trouble

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * One charter school announced Friday it will close. Another is fighting to stay open.

One year after the Missouri Board of Education voted to shutter the six Imagine charter schools for academic failure, the city faces losing two charter schools for very different reasons.

Shearwater High School, 4431 Finney Avenue, will close voluntarily in late June after three years of trying to help students who had quit school or were in danger of dropping out. Chief Executive Stephanie Krauss announced in a statement Friday that Shearwater's governing board decided to close the school because it was "unable to establish the necessary conditions for getting the majority of our students on track to graduate."

Jamaa Learning Center, 1106 North Jefferson, is fighting to remain open after learning this month that the University of Missouri-Columbia would revoke its sponsorship, unless Jamaa successfully appeals. Without a sponsor, a charter school cannot receive state money.

A May 7 letter from the university's director of charter school operations listed deficit spending and unsatisfactory academics as grounds for pulling the plug on the school, which would have kindergarten through eighth grade next year. Jamaa's board plans to plead its case at a hearing this summer and is searching for a new sponsor.

"Jamaa does not intend to close," said Trina Clark James, the school's chief executive.

The school expects an infusion of $100,000 next month from a donor, which would eliminate a deficit, James said. The school, with 144 students, needs more time to catch up financially and help students grow academically, she added.

Charter schools are public schools that do not charge tuition but operate independently of traditional school districts. …