Doug Thaman | St. Louis Public Radio

Doug Thaman

Children draw at City Garden Montessori school. The school plans to increase enrollment from 276 students to 2,500 over 10 years.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Biome School, a small, independent public charter school in St. Louis, has to rely on donations for a quarter of its funding to educate 178 students. 

“We're certainly not crying foul from the standpoint that we knew the business model was broken when we launched the charter school,” said Bill Kent, school president and CEO.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon talks to students at Moline elementary school in Riverview Gardens Monday, Nov. 7, 2016.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 7 at 3:55 with Nixon comments: No Missouri school districts scored in the unaccredited range on this year’s annual report cards, but that doesn’t mean that the state’s two unaccredited districts – Normandy and Riverview Gardens – are automatically headed for an upgrade.

And among charters in St. Louis, one – Preclarus Mastery Academy – scored in the unaccredited range for the third straight year. Two others that scored in the same territory, with less than half of the possible points – Jamaa Learning Center and Better Learning Communities Academy – closed at the end of the last school year.

teacher in classroom
Provided| 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.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 23, 2013 - If Missouri educators were to use the first year of a new evaluation plan to classify school districts, St. Louis Public Schools would slide back into unaccredited territory, joining Normandy and Riverview Gardens, and other local districts would be downgraded to provisionally accredited.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 11, 2012 - By passing a law to expand charter schools, the Missouri legislature said it wanted to provide more options for high-quality public education.

But the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is now telling lawmakers that before provisions of the law can be put into place, they need to come up with the money to do it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 14, 2012 - With a new law in place that could lead to more charter schools across Missouri, the state association designed to help charters provide a quality education wants to make sure that everyone knows how to judge whether a school is making the grade.

But just because there's a new manual, that doesn’t mean the Missouri Charter Public School Association wants to see an explosion of new alternatives springing up all over the place, beyond St. Louis and Kansas City, where they have been allowed so far.

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.

Charter school bill seeks broad-based changes

Jan 11, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 11, 2012 - If a bill filed for the new session of the Missouri legislature passes, charter schools could spread to more areas of the state, be sponsored by more universities, have access to more buildings and have a new commission to add to the mix.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2011 - Citing continued shortcomings in academic achievement and governance, Missouri Baptist University said Monday that it was revoking the charter of one of the Imagine charter schools it sponsors in St. Louis and putting others on probation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 8, 2011 - Missouri's commissioner of education says the Imagine charter schools in St. Louis, under fire for chronically low achievement, should close at the end of the current school year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2011 - So you're fed up with hearing about how kids in St. Louis have no quality public schools to attend and you have a great idea for a charter school that will blow the rest of them away.

How do you get started?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 28, 2011 - More than 10 years after the first charter school opened in St. Louis, too many charters have fallen short of their promise and need more financial help, stricter oversight and stronger incentives to improve student achievement, a report released this week by FOCUS St. Louis concludes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 17, 2011 - JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri state board of education advanced a new way to judge the state's public school districts to the next stage Tuesday, but several members expressed frustration that the new standards would not cover the 20,000 students attending charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City.