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UCM to end sponsorships of all Kansas City-area charter schools

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Posted at 1:25 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 14:25:47-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Central Missouri is moving away from sponsoring charter schools, which will affect seven schools in the Kansas City area.

The university made the decision public on Thursday, saying it will end the sponsorships by June 30, 2022. It will continue to work with the schools until they transition to new sponsors.

A release from the school said the Board of Governors made the decision to "more closely align its resources to pursue its mission, which is focused on providing a quality post-secondary education to students in Missouri and beyond."

Charter school sponsorships provide oversight for academics, finance, governance and operations and is required by Missouri state law for the schools to operate.

The seven schools affected by UCM's decision include Academie Lafayette, Crossroads Charter Schools, Gordon Parks Elementary School, Guadalupe Centers Schools, Hope Leadership Academy, Kansas City International Academy and Scuola Vita Nuova.

Potential new sponsors will meet with the school boards to discuss possible transitions.

The CEO of Gordon Parks Elementary School, Kirsten Lipari-Braman, said the school will meet with three potential sponsors over the summer and hopes to have a decision by the fall.

Gordon Parks was one of the first charter schools to receive the UCM sponsorship in 2000.

Crossroads Charter Schools has been sponsored by UCM since 2012.

"While we don't ever want to lose a partner, we respect UCM's decision and will be beginning the process of choosing a new sponsor for our school. However, our day-to-day operations will remain the same. Families and students will not experience any change at all as a result of this announcement," Superintendent and Co-Founder Tysie McDowell said of the Crossroads transition.

Some of the schools have a year to decide on a new sponsor, but some were due to renew the sponsorships in a nearer time frame and will have to negotiate a renewal with a new sponsor.

Scuolo Vita Nuovo is one school that has a year but will begin meeting as a board next week to discuss next steps. The school does not believe finding a new sponsor that is a good fit will be a big challenge.

Hope Leadership Academy officials said they expect sponsors to begin stepping up and reaching out to the charter schools.

"We have been very happy having UCM as our sponsor. Our board will be working to secure a possible sponsor as we continue the good work at Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools," Guadalupe Superintendent Joe Palmer said.

Palmer said he does not expect any negative impact on school operations.

41 Action News has reached out to all charter schools for statements. This story will be updated with additional comments.