Free charter school increases enrollment, grades, and staff
St. Louis College Prep continues to grow as it enters its sixth year serving the St. Louis City area.
“We have almost tripled the amount of space we are using since we first opened in 2001,” said St. Louis College Prep Executive Director Mike Malone. “When we first opened, we had 75 fifth and sixth graders. This year we have over 300 scholars in the sixth grade all the way through tenth grade.”
This is the first year the school has offered a tenth grade, part of a plan to build out to a full sixth through twelfth grade system by 2018, a plan which will also involve further expansion of the school’s new facility on Grattan Street.
“Even though this building accommodates us well this year, it is really exciting that we are growing to the point where we will outgrow it,” Malone said. “Eventually we will have 600 kids and this building can only hold about 400 kids.”
Malone said a lot of the focus during the 2016-17 school year will be on solidifying and growing a number of initiatives created during the past year.
“Last year was definitely a year of transition,” said Malone, noting that the school started in its new facility, brought on a new principal and initiated a new one-to-one digital device initiative. “This year it feels like we have laid a great foundation and now we get to build on that.”
He said the school has created a new student leadership team, which will move it into the future.
“We have a really outstanding principal, Lauren Fleischer, who came in last year,” said Malone. “She now has two assistant principals, Erin Ellinger, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Terrell Borum, our Dean of Students. They are ready to serve our students and help our teachers do great things for our scholars. This year is the first year that we have had the capacity to have that level of high quality support for our teachers and I think it will be a game changer.”
The school is also building on its one-to-one digital device program.
“Early this year we will be at a point where we have a Chromebook for each of our students,” said Malone. “Giving them a computer does not mean they will go to college, but that access increases the chances and we believe that is super important,” said Malone.
The school is also expanding a partnership with Beyond School, an innovative afterschool support program which, provided St. Louis College Prep students with dramatic benefits last year.
“Not only did the scholars who participated in this receive more academic support, but they were also able to participate in a lot of clubs and sports, hear from a number of guest speakers, and get some experience with community service,” said Malone. “It is a really awesome organization.”
He said students at St. Louis College Prep on average achieve 1.5 years of academic growth for every year they are enrolled in the school, but noted that those that also participated in Beyond School saw even greater achievement.
“They were averaging three years of growth,” said Malone, “so it really paid dividends for the families that participated in this free program.”
Malone noted that the school is proud to be able to offer all of its services, even transportation to and from the school, for free.
“Every kid who lives in the city should have a chance to get an education which will get them to and through college, no matter where they were born, who their parents are or even what their educational experience is up to that point,” said Malone. “If you live in the city and are in the right age group and we have room for you, then you are welcome to come here for free.”
St. Louis College Prep is a public charter school, run by a board of directors and must meet the same financial and educational requirements as any other public school system.
“We are funded primarily by taxpayer money and there is a responsibility to make sure we deliver and the taxpayers get a great education for their investment,” said Malone. “It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly.”