The State Board of Education voted today to be the sponsor of a new charter school in St. Louis that could serve up to 400 dropouts and high-risk students during the next school year.
This is the first time that state education officials have elected to assume direct sponsorship of a charter school. The 22 charter schools now operating in Missouri are sponsored either by universities or local school districts.
The State Board of Education approved a five-year charter agreement for the CAN! Academies of St. Louis which plans to open for the 2007-08 school year.
The CAN! Academies started in Texas in 1985 as the Dallas CAN! program, with the specific mission of working with juvenile offenders and other high-risk youth. The program now operates 10 charter schools in Texas and is branching out with programs in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Missouri.
During the start-up year, the CAN! charter school plans to serve as many as 400 St. Louis Public School students who have dropped out or are likely to drop out. The school projects that it could serve as many as 600 students per year in the future.
Authorized by the Missouri Legislature in 1998, charter schools are public schools which are operated by independent boards. They are not subject to many of the regulations and requirements that apply to traditional public schools. Under the law, the charter schools may be established only within the boundaries of the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts.
The 22 charter schools now operating in the state - 16 in Kansas City and 6 in St. Louis - are serving about 11,500 students this year. Three new schools have been approved to begin operating next year in St. Louis, and one new school has been approved to start in Kansas City.