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A Note to our Confluence Charter Schools Community, April 21, 2016

Confluence Charter Schools is aware of concerns among our families and staff regarding a lawsuit filed by the Saint Louis Public School district and its potential impact on the charter school community.

We want to explain what we’ve learned in the last few days so that you’ll be aware of what’s happening. But, first, please be assured that Confluence Charter Schools will be open for 2016-2017, and we will continue to enroll families who choose our schools for their child’s education, not only for the upcoming school year, but beyond.

SLPS, Missouri State Board of Education
The Special Administrative Board of SLPS has filed a lawsuit against the Missouri State Board of Education regarding payments to St. Louis area public charter schools. SLPS filed the suit to recover more than $42 million in payments made to these schools from local sales tax revenue. The lawsuit was filed on April 11, 2016, in U.S. District Court. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story about the lawsuit on April 18, 2016.

The lawsuit claims the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has overpaid charter schools in St. Louis since 2006 by including the ‘desegregation’ sales tax with payments made to charter schools. 

The estimated amount includes school years from 2006 to 2015. An additional amount of $8.8 million is included for the current school year, and the lawsuit also wants to remove the ‘desegregation’ sales tax money from state payments to public charter schools going forward.

By law, charter schools are public schools. They operate independently of the traditional public school system. Charter schools offer a choice in public education for families. In St. Louis, charter schools serve approximately 10,000 students or 1/3 of the public school children.

 

The Impact on Confluence Charter Schools
Confluence Charter Schools educates 3,200 children in grades PreK-12 at five locations – Aspire Academy, Confluence Academy-Old North, Confluence Academy-South City, Confluence Preparatory Academy and Grand Center Arts Academy.

Our student population is predominately African American, but our schools also represent diverse populations. For example, GCAA enrolls students from St. Louis County through the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, commonly known as the VICC desegregation program. Confluence Academy-South City has a student population of more than 40 percent Hispanic/Latino children.

As we said, our students, families and staff can be reassured that Confluence schools will be open for 2016-2017. We will continue to enroll families who choose our schools for their child’s education.

The board of directors and administrative leaders of Confluence Charter Schools anticipates a long legal process related to the lawsuit against the state by SLPS. Throughout the process, we will keep our students, families and staff informed of any updates as they become available.

Missouri Charter Public Schools Association
The Missouri Charter Public Schools Association, an advocacy and legislative nonprofit that represents charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City, has provided fact sheets with a timeline that explains the history of the issues regarding the desegregation of SLPS, the ‘desegregation’ sales tax revenue, legislation that impacts charter school payments, as well as a question-and-answer about the potential financial impact of the lawsuit.

Charter schools that operate as a local education agency – which is how Confluence operates – receive money from the state of Missouri. The amount of money a charter school receives from the state is calculated by enrollment. Charter schools receive less money per student from the state but are held to the same expectations for student achievement.

Voice your Concern
MCPSA and Confluence encourages families and community members to express their concerns by contacting SLPS at (314) 345-2500.

If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #DropTheSuit and include @MOCharterSchool and @SLPS_INFO @SLPS_SUPT in your tweets about the lawsuit.

If you’re on Facebook, follow SLPS and MCPSA. Include MOCharterSchools in your posts about the lawsuit.

Just so you know, SLPS may delete your comments or tweets, but if you include @MOCharterSchool or MOCharterSchools, your comments will be public on MCPSA’s social media sites.

 

Updates
As more information becomes available, we will post details on the Confluence website. You can also find information on the MCPSA site.