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Tale of Two Charters

Steve Bell
Southwest High School (top) and the new University Leadership Academy charter school - two fine facilities one mile apart on the map, 80 years apart in age.

By Steve Bell

Kansas City, MO – Central Missouri State University says because of falling test scores it will not continue to sponsor Southwest Charter School beyond the coming year. CMSU also is concerned about teacher and student turnover and the school's shaky finances. The struggling charter school is moving to 17th and Washington, leaving the future of a fine educational facility in doubt. The district has offered to allow the students to continue at Southwest as a district school, but with parent skepticism, less than half of the present enrollment of 500 is interested in returning to a district-operated school.

Meanwhile, a mile away, more than 3,000 have applied to be admitted to the new University Academy charter school. It has an outstanding academic record, placed 100% of its graduating class in colleges with advance credit, and its sponsorship contract with UMKC has been extended for 10 years. Riding a wave of success and through the philanthropy and guidance of Barnett Helzberg, the school is opening a new building estimated to have cost over $26 million.

While the future looks bright for University Academy, it remains to be seen what will become of Southwest, an excellent facility in a prime location with a distinguished history. School Board Member and Southwest alumnus Joel Pelofsky is leading the effort to bring a quality school back to the 65th and Wornall location.

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