Charter Closures Affect More Than 3,500 Mo. Students

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, April 23, 2012

More than 3,500 students will be displaced when a network of St. Louis charter schools run by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc. closes in what may be the largest shutdown of its kind in the United States.

Officials are trying to find spots for students in St. Louis Public Schools and other charter schools in the city after the Missouri Board of Education decided Tuesday to close the six campuses.

Todd Ziebarth of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the shutdown was the largest as far as he knew.

"It's complicated enough when it's a single school of, let's say, 300 kids," Ziebarth said. Missouri education officials cited problems with the schools, including scores on the state's standardized tests that were well below those of St. Louis Public Schools. Other issues included rent and administrative costs that took dollars from the classroom to the for-profit management company that runs them.

Imagine Schools has said it is considering its options. The management company educates about 40,000 students nationwide and said the St. Louis charter schools served about 3,500 students. The state said the schools started the year with 3,800 students, but that the enrollment had dropped since then.