St. Louis charter school applications decline as sponsors raise expectations

The pace of new charter schools seeking to open in St. Louis has slowed, according to the universities that act as sponsors and receive formal applications.

Though the reasons vary, charter sponsors say they’ve learned more about what it takes to successfully open and sustain a school both financially and academically, which is helping them weed out weak applications.

The schools — which are tuition-free, independent public schools — first opened in Missouri in 1999 as an alternative to the then-struggling St. Louis and Kansas City school districts. About a third of St. Louis’ public school kids attend charter schools, which are required by state law to have a sponsor that’s responsible for holding the school accountable.

It takes about two years to open a charter school. Growth of charters peaked from 2009 to 2011 when more than 10 opened in St. Louis, though not all have lasted. Only one new school is scheduled to open its doors St. Louis for the 2017-2018 school year.

Bill Mendelsohn, executive director of charter operations for the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said there’s been a reduction in applications.

Saint Louis University assistant provost Steve Sanchez said the expectations of sponsors “have been ratcheted up pretty significantly.”

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio


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