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Preclarus Mastery Academy officially closes

Preclarus Mastery Academy, which was housed inside Third Baptist Church, has 200 students enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year.
Provided | Preclarus Mastery Academy
Preclarus Mastery Academy, which was housed inside Third Baptist Church, had 200 students enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year.

St. Louis parents will have one less charter school to choose from in the coming school  year. Preclarus Mastery Academy officially closed its doors June 30. That’s seven years after the charter school opened in the Grand Center Arts District at 620 N. Grand Blvd.

The school’s sponsor, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said continued poor academic performance and several shake ups in leadership led to the closing. Bill Mendelsohn, the executive director of UMSL’s Charter School Office, said Preclarus had been on the path to closure for some time.

“Preclarus was not providing a quality education for its students, as evidenced by the students' performance on state assessments,” Mendelsohn said. “They had ample opportunities over several years to improve their curriculum and instruction and hopefully bring up those student test outcomes, and it just didn’t happen.”

UMSL’s Charter School Office had revoked its sponsorship of the charter school last year, but that decision was overturned by the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Soon after, Mendelsohn and his office crafted a plan with Preclarus to get it on track. Mendelsohn said while there were some improvements, the school and his office agreed it was not enough to keep the school open. By October 2017, the charter school office had announced the end of their sponsorship because Preclarus was unable to meet the new performance contract.

“You never want a school to fail,” Mendelsohn said. “You don’t want to close a school down. What was good in this case was that the school agreed that it was in the best interest of their students to close the school and then did everything properly to make sure the closure would be smooth.”

School officials and the sponsor notified parents of the school's more than 100 students in December of the change.

Preclarus was not the only charter school in thestate to close.

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology in Kansas City also closed on June 30.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.