Seven Kansas City charter schools losing sponsorship after UCM ends program

Education

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Seven Kansas City charter schools are losing their sponsorship. 

The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg has partnered with the charter schools for years and is now ending the program, leaving schools scrambling. 

Missouri law actually requires that charter schools have a sponsorship. Now that UCM is dropping its program, the impacted schools will have to link up with another entity. 

But the charters want to reassure families they’re here to stay. 

Students at Scoula Vita Nuova in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast are having a little fun as the school year winds down. The charter has been around since 1999 and is proud of its growth. 

“We really, truly are a family, and we believe every child is a leader at some capacity, and so we are here to work to help them develop those skill sets so they can be successful in their future,” said Nicole Goodman, superintendent of Scuola Vita Nuova. 

But big changes are coming to SVN and six other Kansas City Charter schools after UCM’s announcement. In a statement, the university said, in part:

“Action by the university’s governing board allows UCM to more closely align its resources to pursue its mission, which is focused on providing a quality post-secondary education to students in Missouri and beyond.” 

After a difficult school year due to the pandemic, it left Goodman a bit shocked.

“Considering this past year, I was taken aback. I was surprised,” she said. “But just like we’ve done this past year, we will get through this, and I’m confident University of Central Missouri will work with us as we transition to seek a new sponsor.”

Only three other sponsorship options are available right now: the University of Missouri in Columbia, Kansas City Public Schools, and the Missouri Public Charter School Commission. 

Zach Sewell will soon have a kindergartner at Academie Lafayette, also impacted by the change. Although it’s an unexpected issue in what will be their first school year, he’s confident the school’s doing all it can to work things out and hopes the community will be involved in the process. 

“We would love to if they offer any opportunity for parents and families to have a voice in sharing what matters with them. We would love to play a role in that,” Sewell said. 

A charter school sponsor is responsible for providing oversight support with academics, finances and operations, and those affected have a full year to find a new sponsorship. 

This kind of change isn’t unusual. A few years ago, the University of Missouri-Kansas City ended its sponsorship of several local charter schools. All of them found a new partner to keep the schools open. 

Here is UCM’s full statement: 

After becoming one of the state’s pioneering higher education institutions in the sponsorship of charter schools, the University of Central Missouri has announced its role as charter school sponsor will be coming to an end effective by June 30, 2022. While taking this step, UCM will continue to work with all seven charter schools that it currently sponsors as they transition to new sponsors. 

The mission-driven decision to transition away from charter school sponsorship was made by UCM’s Board of Governors. Through the UCM Office of Charter Schools in the College of Education, the university currently provides oversight in areas that include academics, finance, governance and operations for seven charter schools that serve students ranging from pre-kindergarten level to 12th grade.

These schools and the grade levels currently sponsored are Academie Lafayette, Pre-K-9; Crossroads Charter Schools, Pre-K-12; Gordon Parks Elementary School, Pre-K-4; Guadalupe Centers Schools, Pre-K-12; Hope Leadership Academy, K-4; Kansas City International Academy, Pre-K-8; and Scuola Vita Nuova, K-8. Each of these schools is located in Kansas City. 

Action by the university’s governing board allows UCM to more closely align its resources to pursue its mission, which is focused on providing a quality post-secondary education to students in Missouri and beyond. 

The university reached out to lead administrators at each of its sponsored schools this week to let them know about its plan and to offer support as needed between now and through their transition to a new sponsor. State law requires charter schools to have a sponsor.

UCM is confident that these charter schools can work collaboratively with other authorized charter school sponsors to continue to successfully serve their communities. The university will provide an opportunity for potential sponsors to meet with charter school boards and administrators to discuss the possibility of transitioning sponsorship. 

“We appreciate the opportunity to have played an instrumental role in the education of Missouri primary and secondary students as a longtime sponsor of charter schools. It has been a tremendous experience working with many administrators, board members, faculty and staff at these schools, and we’re grateful for their commitment and dedication to student learning,” said UCM President Roger Best.

“We also thank the faculty and staff in our College of Education, and particularly our Office of Charter Schools, who have sought to make a positive difference in the lives of charter school students. They have committed countless hours of service to students for more than two decades, and we’re proud of their efforts.” 

The university, which was founded as a Normal School in 1871, has a 150-year history of preparing exceptionally qualified educators for the State of Missouri and continually seeks opportunities for innovations to benefit schools and students. Its College of Education partners with schools and school districts through initiatives such as “Grow Your Own Future” and provides undergraduate, graduate, and Education Specialist degrees for aspiring and current teachers and administrators. 

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