St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay today announced that three new charter schools will open this fall. The three schools bring to 12 the number of charters that have opened since the mayor began a vigorous screening process four years ago. Charter schools are public schools free from tuition, open to all, and free from the bureaucracy of the St. Louis Public Schools.
"Providing quality educational choices is the number one challenge facing the City of St. Louis," said Mayor Francis Slay. "Too many of our children are in substandard schools, and too many of our families are forced to leave neighborhoods they love to find good schools for their children."
The latest U.S. Census figures show that the City lost 22,000 school aged children, 3/4ths of the City's population loss. When you take into account their parents, families with children account for all of the City's population loss.
Mayor Slay joined charter school administrators and parents today at Gateway Science Academy to discuss the importance of charter schools - and their role in providing the City's children with good, free, public educations. Gateway Science opened this fall with great interest from parents and neighbors. The school already has a waiting list.
"Nothing frustrates me more than to hear of young couples moving out of the City because of a lack of quality education options," said Mayor Slay. "Charter schools are providing City families with an option to stay - and they are giving others a reason to hope that all children in St. Louis can get a great, affordable education."
When the 2011 school year begins, three new charter schools will open to City residents. Other charter schools will add grades and capacity. The charter schools opening in 2011 include:
Jamaa Learning Center will open at 2900 N. Prairie for grades K-8. A new building will be constructed 4400 St. Louis Avenue. The Jamaa belief is that the key to academic and positive character development is a meaningful and long-term relationship with an empowered adult. Jamaa will open for grades K, 3, and 6 in 2011 and plans to add three grades each year.
Preclarus Mastery Academy will open at 625 North Euclid Avenue for grades 5-12. The school's mission will be to ensure that all its students both enter and graduate from a nationally-ranked four-year university. Preclarus will continue to provide its graduates with tutoring, mentoring, social gatherings, and career guidance while they are enrolled in college. Preclarus is currently enrolling for 5th and 6th grades and plans to add a grade each year.
South City Prep will open at 2900 S. Grand Boulevard for grades 5-12. The school's mission is to prepare students to enter, succeed in, and graduate from college by challenging students academically and emphasizing the importance of character and community responsibility. South City Prep is currently enrolling for 5th and 6th grades and will add a grade each year.
Charter schools have different themes, serve different neighborhoods, and target a variety of grades. Schools that have gone through the process created by Mayor Slay are held to high standards. Charter schools must demonstrate that the school and board leadership will operate a fiscally sound school that will meet specific academic and organizational performance goals. If those high standards are not met, the schools will close.
"I will only support quality charters," Slay said. "If they are not quality, they should be closed."
By this fall, more than 10,000 children will be in charters. By offering free public schools and ensuring that those schools are meeting expectations, thousands more families are staying in the City. Thousands more children are getting a good, free public education.
"I vow to continue to work to provide parents with more charter school options," said Mayor Slay. "Charter schools are good for our children - and our City."