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State approve 2 new St. Louis charter schools

State approve 2 new St. Louis charter schools

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The Missouri State Board of Education approved two new charter schools for the St. Louis area Tuesday, even as it placed four existing charter schools on notice to improve their finances.

Both of the new charter schools approved by the state would open in the 2013-14 school year.

Eagle College Prep Endeavor, sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia, plans to open for kindergarten through third grade with 131 students, adding more students with plans to reach 326 in grades K-7 in 2017-18. Organizers hope to open the school in the Morganford-Chippewa area of the city.

Lafayette Preparatory Academy will open with kindergarten through first grade, with 94 students, and would later grow to 294 in grades K-5 by 2017-18. Its target neighborhoods include Soulard, Lafayette Square, LaSalle Park and others near downtown.

In other business, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has identified four charter schools in St. Louis as financially stressed.

Officials analyzed 2011-12 financial data and determined Carondelet Leadership Academy, Grand Center Arts Academy, South City Preparatory Academy and Jamaa Learning Center had fund balances that were negative or less than 3 percent of operating expenditures. The state will notify sponsors of the schools, who then have 45 days to develop a report on how they plan to deal with issue.

The state board's meeting also provided an update on the closure earlier this year of the Imagine network of St. Louis charter schools, which displaced more than 3,000 students.

State officials told the board that the cost of the transition for students who attended Imagine charter schools that closed this year was nearly $250,000.

The expenses included staff salaries for the transition office, handling student record requests and moving and redistributing some equipment from the shuttered schools.

Of the 3,333 students who needed to find a new school after the state voted to close the schools after years of academic and financial problems, about 89 percent now attend St. Louis Public Schools.

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Jessica Bock is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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