St. Louis Charter School Closures Costs $250,000, Missouri Approves Two New Schools

Closure Of Six Charter Schools In St. Louis Costs $250,000

The closing of six St. Louis charter schools operated by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc. has cost $250,000, the Associated Press reports.

The schools boasted 3,333 students — about 89 percent of whom transferred to St. Louis Public Schools after the state voted last spring to close the Imagine network of St. Louis charter schools following years of academic and financial management issues.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, expenses included staff salaries for the transition office and handling student record requests, among others.

The district also opened three schools specifically for the displaced students and hired many former Imagine teachers, the AP reports. The business community reportedly contributed $100,000 to aid in the transition, while the state footed the other $150,000.

Speaking at the Missouri Public Charter School Association's annual conference earlier this month, state Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said that Imagine schools in St. Louis had performed below the city's public schools on state tests, and also spent significantly less money on instruction compared to administrative costs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

"I don't want to highlight failure, but I think it is illustrative and very important for us to understand the lessons of what happened with Imagine so as to avoid that happening again," Nicastro said. "All of us want our schools to be successful and we want to avoid having to take any kind of drastic action."

Details surrounding the Imagine closings come as the Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday approved two new charter schools for the St. Louis area, while also identifying four charter schools in St. Louis as financially stressed.

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, charter schools' financially stressed designation comes under a new law that requires more supervision of publicly funded schools. It allocates 45 days for schools to submit their 2012-13 budgets and education plan to help their financial situation, under the threat of frozen funds for noncompliance.

Meanwhile, the two new charter schools approved by the state are slated to open for the 2013-14 school year.

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