Management problems, low academics causing Renaissance Academy to close

More than 1,100 students must find a new school to attend next fall because Renaissance Academy for Math and Science will shutter its doors at the end of this school year.

The K-12 charter school, which opened in 2007 with two campuses, has been plagued with management problems and low student achievement from its start, said Deb Carr, who coordinates charter schools for the University of Missouri, the sponsor for Renaissance.

“The issue was performance,” said Dana Cutler, an attorney for the school. “Test scores were low and not improving. In some cases they had gone down.”

Cutler said that last year, the fourth year of a five-year charter agreement, board members saw that Renaissance hadn’t been able to improve student achievement and members didn’t see that it would get better within the year left on the charter.

It was then that members decided that after this year, the board would not seek to renew the charter.

“One of the things that is difficult for charter schools to swallow is if it is underperforming, recognize that and move out of the way,” Cutler said. “If the school continues to underperform, it hurts the entire charter school movement.”

Besides, she said, the board didn’t believe its sponsoring institution would continue to support it given its history of low performance.

“We are guided by our application for charter in which we said what we were going to do and how we were going to do it,” Cutler said. “But that didn’t happen. Because the ‘how’ did not occur, the ‘what’ did not occur.”

Renaissance was formed after Southwest Charter School closed in 2005. Because of Southwest’s financial problems, poor student test scores and poor school governance, the University of Central Missouri declined to continue as its sponsor.

Imagine Schools operated it as a free private school for one year until the University of Missouri signed on to sponsor the school.

The school will invite the Kansas City School District and charter and private schools to student recruitment fairs in January and February. The school also plans several parent forums this month.