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A Note to Confluence Charter Schools: LEA Merger Update, June 23, 2017

Students, Families and Staff of Confluence Charter Schools,

I want to personally update you on important developments. The Board of Directors of Confluence Charter Schools met yesterday, Thursday, June 22, 2017. The meeting included a discussion about the merger of Confluence and Grand Center Arts Academy from two local education agencies into one. Subsequent to that meeting, an article appeared in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  I want each of you to know that these discussions are intended to face long-term challenges and ultimately to strengthen both GCAA and all our Confluence schools.

As you may know, the idea of merging these LEAs has long generated careful and thoughtful discussion among the Board, administrative leaders and the Grand Center Arts Academy school community. Although there are two LEAs, both Confluence and GCAA are governed by the same board, a chief executive officer and an administrative team, essentially operating as one LEA.

Jeff Kuntze, chief financial officer, gave a presentation with an overview of the history of the organizations, the financial structure of the LEAs, the benefits of becoming one LEA and the possible outcomes if the LEAs remain separate. After explaining the reasons a merger makes sense given the challenges we face, the recommendation to the Board was to begin developing a detailed plan for how to accomplish a merger. A PDF copy of the presentation is attached below.

In the end, the Board voted to approve allowing the Resource Office and legal advisors to develop a plan for how a merger of LEAs could move forward, while maintaining proper focus on the mission of Grand Center Arts Academy and serving all students of Confluence Charter Schools.

The strengths of our school community are shown in the 3,200 students and families who made the choice of Confluence and GCAA for their child’s education. GCAA is the only public charter school in St. Louis with an emphasis in the arts – theatre, visual arts, dance and music. In May 2017, GCAA graduated its second class of seniors – 95 students – with a 100 percent graduation rate. The Class of 2017 reported more than $2 million in scholarship offers. 

The Board of Directors remains committed to the success of Grand Center Arts Academy. The Board has undertaken thorough and extensive reviews of each Confluence school’s performance and financial stability. After this careful analysis, we have come to the conclusion that an LEA merger would solve the financial concerns of GCAA, which, in turn, would lead to long-term stability and the ability for GCAA to continue to serve its students.

The next steps are complex and will take time. The deadline for developing a formal plan and moving toward a merger of the LEAs is July 1, 2018. We will continue to keep staff and families updated as this process continues. In the meantime, we remain dedicated to the success of all our students in each of our schools.

I believe that directly facing our difficulties and remaining focused on our mission are the only ways to strengthen Confluence schools, including GCAA. I applaud the Board for their thoughtful leadership, and I thank each of you for your support and dedication to the students and families of Confluence Charter Schools. Let’s move forward together.

Sincerely,

Candice Carter-Oliver, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer