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UCM Board Renews Two of Three Charter School Sponsorship Contracts

By Jeff Murphy, October 30, 2017

WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 30, 2017) – While agreeing to extend charter school contracts for Scuola Vita Nuova and Gordon Parks Elementary schools in Kansas City, the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors  voted Oct. 27 not to renew UCM’s sponsorship for Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology (BBCAT). Deficiencies that impair a quality education for Benjamin Banneker’s students were cited in the board’s decision to let the contract expire June 30, 2018.

 A letter notifying the school’s Board of Directors of the UCM decision has been sent by the university. Currently in its 18th year of operation, Benjamin Banneker Charter School of Technology is located at 6401 Rockhill Road in Kansas City and serves 320 Pre-K-8 high-risk students through an active, student- and community-centered learning environment.

“UCM is proud to sponsor numerous charter schools in Kansas City, and we take seriously our responsibility to ensure that students in these schools are getting a quality education,” said Robert Lee, dean of the College of Education.  “A recommendation was made to our Board of Governors after serious deliberation and review of data demonstrating that despite sincere efforts to serve high-need students, Benjamin Banneker has not been able to meet the academic criteria that Missouri statutes have established for public charter schools as well as UCM guidelines.”

Among reasons cited for the university’s decision not to renew charter sponsorship for BBCAT are:

  • Benjamin Banneker’s Annual Performance Report (APR) percentages, which are results from the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP); student engagement criteria generated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and scores on additional assessments have shown a steady downward trend since the school’s last renewal in 2012.
  • BBCAT has not achieved APR Progress points in English language arts (ELA), math, and science in 2015 and 2016, and internal projections indicate it is unlikely to achieve APR Progress points in these areas in 2017.
  • The school has not been above the Kansas City APR percentage for three out of the last four years.
  • Benjamin Banneker has not met the criteria required by the remedial plan implemented last year.
  • Retention rates for teachers and students have been persistently low, resulting in ever-changing teaching staff and student population.

The school has not implemented any significant teaching or learning initiatives since its last renewal.

Lee noted that UCM is making its decision months prior to the charter sponsorship contract’s expiration in order to enable students and their parents to have ample time to seek educational opportunities at other schools in the Kansas City area. A transition team will be assembled as quickly as possible to aid students and their families in pursuing education elsewhere. Benjamin Banneker’s school board also has the option to seek another sponsor, and UCM announcing its decision now gives the board time to pursue this possibility.

“UCM’s Office of Charter Schools will immediately begin working with Benjamin Banneker’s personnel to organize the transition team. This team will play a vital role in answering questions from teachers, parents, and students; working through the school’s closure; and helping students and teachers to have a smooth conclusion to their academic year with ample time to transition to a new school,” Lee said.

UCM’s Office of Charter Schools is prepared to assist and meet regularly with Benjamin Banneker staff and its Board of Directors.  The Missouri Charter Public School Association and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also will be available to offer assistance. Individuals who have questions can call the university’s Office of Charter Schools at 660-543-4723.

UCM Board of Governors’ action related to other charter schools included renewal of charter sponsorship for Scuola Vita Nuova, 535 Garfield, for a 10-year term, from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2028, and renewing the charter agreement with Gordon Parks Elementary, 3715 Wyoming, for a five-year term, July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2023. Scuola Vita Nuova has an enrollment of 252 students in grades K-8. Gordon Parks serves 179 students in grades

Having a strong reputation for its teacher education programs, UCM became the first public university in Missouri to sponsor charter schools in 1990, the same year Benjamin Banneker opened.  Including Banneker, the university currently sponsors nine charter schools in Kansas City serving more than 5,000 students cumulatively.


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