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Taxpayers Spend $124 Million on Failing & Low Performing Charter Schools

As the discussion of HB 634 has unfolded, we have heard from charter school proponents just how great charter schools perform compared to traditional public schools. They also tell us that the low performing charter schools close. We know from the recent news regarding Confluence Academy, this last argument just isn't true. 

The Confluence charter school network educates nearly 3,000 students in the St. Louis area. Their average performance score for the last four years is 39%. They received $40 million in 2016. The situation is so horrendous that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch actually referred to this charter network as "failure factories".

However, we have found that Confluence Academy isn't the only charter school failing to serve students to the level of their local school district. 

In fact, Missouri taxpayers are subsidizing a total of seventeen charter school networks that perform below the local school district in which they exist. These schools are subsidized to the tune of more than $123 million in state and local taxpayer dollars. At an average of $13,416 per pupil, these charter schools spend almost 30% more per student than the statewide average.

Charter SchoolPerformancePer PupilEnrollmentTotal
Better Learning Comm Academy28.00%$10,058.52189$1,901,060.54
Della Lamb Elem.36.90%$15,839.73548$8,780,092.40
Jamaa Learning Center38.10%$11,380.61159$1,875,993.18
Preclarus Mastery Academy46.30%$13,444.27153$2,081,168.84
B. Banneker Academy46.90%$13,251.27357$4,939,220.83
Genesis School Inc.48.10%$15,135.17285$4,339,728.62
Delasalle Charter School53.20%$21,633.23227$5,422,770.00
Carondelet Leadership Academy53.80%$9,625.77438$4,675,569.71
Confluence Academies54.60%$12,220.132,918$39,999,916.10
Pathway Academy58.60%$13,009.91370$5,332,258.73
Academy For Integrated Arts60.00%$12,314.90120$1,477,787.69
Lafayette Preparatory Academy60.00%$9,414.16170$1,637,536.49
South City Preparatory Academy64.30%$13,813.19268$4,192,275.76
Lee A. Tolbert Com. Academy66.30%$12,120.94540$6,545,306.93
Hogan Preparatory Academy66.40%$12,404.131,000$12,750,524.59
St. Louis Lang Immersion School66.40%$11,089.44846$9,548,044.33
Lift For Life Academy67.50%$12,330.22586$7,587,171.27


Despite the failure in charter schools and the hundreds of millions of dollars the state has continued to spend on failed charter schools, politicians in Jefferson City want to expand these unaccountable, poor performing schools to school districts across the state of Missouri. 

If you believe this is wrong, please consider taking one of the following actions: 

1. Contact your local state legislators and urge them to oppose HB 634. You can access their contact information by clicking here and entering your address. 

2. E-mail your friends and family and let them know about HB 634 and what charter school expansion would mean. Click here for a sample letter that you are free to use as a template. 

3. Share information with your networks on social media. 

4. Write a letter to the editor in your local paper.

5. Urge your local school board to pass a resolution opposing charter school expansion.

If you are just getting to know about charter schools, we have detailed some background information for you below or you can also check out our FAQ:

What are charter schools? Charter schools are classified as public schools and funded by Missouri taxpayers; however, they operate more like private schools. An unelected board governs charter schools and neither local communities nor locally elected school boards have power to oversee them or hold them accountable. 

Failure: Charter schools have been in existence since 1999 in the St. Louis and Kansas City School Districts. Since that time, 21 charter schools have failed. This failure has cost state and local taxpayers more than $620 million. Compounding the problem, when a charter school fails, students are forced to enroll in another school and that school must spend additional resources to get the students up to grade-level. 

Failure Continues: According to 2016 data, of the 39 charter school operating in the state of Missouri, 11 would be deemed provisionally accredited and six would be deemed unaccredited. Four did not receive a score because they are considered too new. In total, less than half (46%) of charter schools are meeting the minimum requirements to be accredited. 

Funding: Charter schools receive the equivalent of all federal, state, and local dollars that a school district would receive for every student that they enroll. This is accomplished by withholding the total amount per student from the local school district in which the charter school is operating. 

Draining funds: Local communities do not have a say in whether a charter school can open in their school district, therefore, taxpayers are not allowed to determine if the school is even needed in the community. As more charter schools open, expenditures increase across the community in the form of administrative and operating costs. This means less money is going into the classroom to serve students. 

Oversight: Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools are not regulated by the State Board of Education. In fact, the State Board of Education is not allowed to accredit or close failing charter schools. Instead, charter schools are regulated by their sponsoring entity. In Missouri, the entities that sponsor charter schools are typically colleges, universities and the Missouri Charter School Commission. 

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