charter schools

John Wright, Robbyn Wahby and Alicia Herald joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

There are almost 70 charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City. Until recently, they were all sponsored by universities. Now another alternative is the Missouri Charter Public School Commission.

Although created by the Missouri legislature in 2012, it didn’t have its first meeting until December of last year. Then at the end of March, Robbyn Wahby was named executive director and left her position as St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s top education adviser to assume her new role.

A dance class at Grand Center Arts Academy
Grand Center Arts Academy

Teachers at the Grand Center Arts Academy charter school have begun the unionization process that could end with their being represented by the American Federation of Teachers.

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

To get an idea about how difficult it can be to interpret test score data when it comes to charter schools, consider Lafayette Preparatory Academy, just west of downtown.

Alex Heuer

According to studies, minorities are the most underrepresented when it comes to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a STEM college preparatory school set to open in the fall of 2015, hopes to change the course of that statistic by preparing minority students for STEM careers while providing a single gender school setting.

Mary Stillman, the schools’ founder and executive director and a graduate of an all-girls school, decided to open the school after hearing about the success rate of an all-girls public school in New York.

Rhonda Broussard
St. Louis American

(From the St. Louis American, updated 4:30 p.m. Monday)

Shocking many parents and students, the St. Louis Language Immersion School Board of Directors announced Saturday that they have replaced school president Rhonda Broussard, who founded the charter school in 2009.

“This transition has been under consideration for some time,” wrote School Board President David Luckes in a letter to the school community. “The board and SLLIS’s extended community are grateful for the work Rhonda Broussard has done over the years to build SLLIS from the ground up.”

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

The rationale for a new collaboration between public school districts in the St. Louis area and Missouri’s association of charter schools can be summed up in five words:

Charter schools are public schools.

Robbyn Wahby, head of the Missouri Charter School Commission
Courtesy Robbyn Wahby

The Missouri Charter Public School Commission has hired St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s top education adviser as its first-ever executive director. Robbyn Wahby has worked with the mayor’s office on school reform policy since 2001, when charter schools first started taking root in the city. She will start her new job in early May.

Eighth-grade communications arts teacher, Kate Berger, leads students through a classroom exercise at South City Preparatory
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio


(Updated Feb. 18 with details on South City Prep's new location and the closing of Construction Careers Center High School.)

A stream of eighth graders flowed into Kate Berger’s classroom at South City Preparatory Academy.  College and university banners line classroom walls and hang from ceilings.           

“Find yourself,” the language arts teacher told students.  “Go to where you need to be.”

Missouri Charter Public School Commission holds its organizational meeting on Dec. 16, 2014.  Alicia Herald (back row, right) was elected commission chair.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's recently formed Charter Public School Commission is preparing to begin operations next year.

comedy nose | Flickr

Almost 20,000 students in St. Louis and Kansas City attended a charter school last school year. That’s nearly twice as many compared to the 2003-04 school year.  And the breadth of charter school options  could grow as the Missouri Charter Public School Commission begins to take shape.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Angelee and Paul Brockmeyer have a soft spot for urban living and fixer-uppers.  

The couple spent five years rehabbing an old home in Chicago.  So, when they decided to pack up and come to St. Louis to be closer to family, Paul spent his weekends scouring the city's nooks and crannies for their next project. 

What they found was a sprawling Victorian in Compton Heights in need of elbow grease and updates.  

“It’s kind of easy to get sold on the whole package when you have this great neighborhood and you really love your house,” Angelee said. 


In the wake of dissatisfaction at its academic performance and other issues, the top officials at the Construction Careers Center charter school in St. Louis have been dismissed and its board has been dissolved.

The actions came last week. The charter is sponsored by the St. Louis Public Schools.

Doug Thaman, who heads the Missouri Charter Public Schools Association, said that the situation at the center had been building for some time, and last year, they brought in a new superintendent, Paul Smith, to evaluate what needed to be done.

A microscope.
(via Flickr/igb)

Six years ago Mary Stillman attended a lecture by Ann Tisch at Washington University.

“That was my ah-ha moment,” Stillman recalls.  “Here she is talking about this group of public schools for girls who wouldn’t otherwise have this model of education and it’s working.”

Tisch is the founder of the Young Women’s Leadership Network, which operates a network of all-girls public schools and boasts a 93 percent graduation rate at its flagship institution in East Harlem.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

All of us should be greatly concerned that the continuation of the Sequestration will have an extremely negative impact on the future of our schools and our school age children. It adversely impacts education in many ways

(via Google Maps screen capture)

In 2009, KIPP Inspire Academy opened its doors in St. Louis. Since then, the charter school has grown from a single class of 80 5th graders to a school of 330 students in grades 5th through 8th, many of them behind by two years in reading and math.

St. Louis Public Radio's Julie Bierach recently spoke with KIPP's Executive Director Kelly Garrett about the school's education model that puts just as much emphasis on character as it does on reading and writing.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced Thursday that three new charter schools will open next fall.

That will bring to 18 the number of schools that have gone through the screening process put in place by the mayor's office.

The mayor says quality education is critical to keeping families in the city.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The state says five Missouri charter schools are financially stressed.

Four of the schools are in St. Louis - Carondolet Leadership Academy, Grand Center Arts Academy, South City Preparatory Academy and Jamaa Learning Center. The fifth is Pathway Academy in Kansas City.

This is the first time the state has declared schools financially stressed under a new state law that requires more supervision of the publicly funded but independently run schools. The designation is based on ending balances in two key funds.

Gov. Jay Nixon says he will sign legislation allowing charter schools to operate in more areas of Missouri but with greater oversight.

But the governor vetoed a separate education bill that would have made it easier for some students to transfer to other districts.

Nixon plans a formal signing ceremony for the charter school bill Wednesday night at the Missouri Girls State convention in Warrensburg.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

More than 3,500 students will be displaced when a network of St. Louis charter schools run by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc. is shuttered in a closure so massive it may be unprecedented nationally.

Todd Ziebarth of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the closure was "definitely" the largest he knew of.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The Missouri Senate has passed bills that would allow for more charter schools in the state and would also allow the state to take over failing school districts more quickly.

In a 31-2 vote Wednesday, the Senate gave final backing to a measure that would allow charter schools to be set up in districts that have been declared unaccredited.

Kansas City and St. Louis are the only districts allowed to have charter schools under current Missouri law.