Mayor Francis Slay has laid the groundwork for a new system of hand-picked public charter schools, meant to rival the city’s sinking school district and draw families back to the city.
Today, Slay’s office will send roughly 70 letters to local educators, Midwest nonprofit education groups, and big charter school companies across the country.
Those letters will invite each of them to start a school here.
His goal is to open quality schools. How many? Realistically, he thinks two or three a year, adding as many as 30 in the next 10 years.
The schools would steer thousands of kids away from the St. Louis Public Schools.
“Our city is cleaner, safer and more beautiful than it has been in a long time,” Slay wrote in the letter. “In short, St. Louis has it all — except enough quality public schools.”
But some say the plan would create a cycle disastrous to the city school district.
“It sounds like a plan, then, to abandon half the children in St. Louis,” said Peter Downs, president of the elected St. Louis School Board. “It’s like setting up two fire departments, two police departments. If you try to do it at the same cost, you have a lot more impoverished schools.”