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Charter school expansion in Missouri coming soon?

February 23, 2012

Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand charter school authorization statewide while creating more stringent standards.  KMOX St. Louis reports that the bill has been revisited after many critics claimed that the original authorization bill would create more under-managed charter schools in a state where two charters in St. Louis closed unexpectedly last year.

The new schools would be overseen by the state board of education; currently schools can only be sponsored by an institution of higher learning or the Kansas City or St. Louis school districts.  No word yet on what Kansas City residents and educators think of the plan, after another bill that would dissolve their school district after losing its accreditation passed out of senate committee.

Some critics expressed concern that expanding charter schools would open the door for private management companies to run charter schools and funnel state funding to themselves.  It’s difficult to nail down the profit margin of private, for-profit management organizations; the Charter School Insights blog once estimated 10-14%, which is a tidy take for an average per-pupil expenditure of more than $10,000 nationwide.  Any law passed in Missouri will likely include some very specific requirements for financial transparency, as well as for evidence of student improvement and performance outcomes.

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