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Imagine Schools to be closed

6:43 PM, Apr 17, 2012   |    comments
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Board of Education is pulling the plug on six St. Louis charter school campuses run by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc.

The schools will close at the end of the academic year, affecting more than 3,500 students.

The state board took action Tuesday after hearing reports that the schools struggled with everything from academics to fiscal management.

The publicly funded but independently run schools are required to have a sponsor to monitor their performance. Missouri Baptist University had filled that role and decided previously to stop sponsoring two of the Imagine-led schools. Under pressure to stop overseeing the other four, the university decided to give up the right to sponsor charter schools.

Imagine's executive vice president, Jason Bryant, calls the decision disappointing and says the company is exploring its options.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Imagine Schools released the following statement Tuesday to NewsChannel 5:
"Imagine is extremely disappointed by today's ruling. This decision has been made without providing us any opportunity to show the progress made on these campuses since last fall. Further, we had expected at least to meet with state officials to present the schools' progress and work together to achieve a path forward that is in the best interest of students and their families. The voices of over 2,500 St. Louis families who have chosen Imagine charter schools have been ignored.

"Imagine Schools has worked in close partnership with the governing boards to implement the necessary steps detailed in the school improvement plans. We are very proud of our students' accomplishments, and we want to continue to foster their progress. Two schools, Imagine Environmental Science and Math and Imagine College Prep High School, are performing well and are not under academic probation. For the past two years, 100% of the Imagine College Prep's graduating seniors were accepted to institutions of higher education, and the upcoming class is nearing that same achievement. Together, members of the Class of 2012 have been awarded approximately $550,000 in financial aid. Two campuses, Imagine Careers Elementary and Middle, have made significant progress meeting their school improvement plans and are prepared for review.

"Given the significance of this decision, the 3,500 Imagine students and their families deserve a fair and transparent process, which was not afforded them today by this abrupt decision. In the days ahead, we will consult with the governing boards and consider all options that best serve the interests of the students and their families."

Associated Press

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