(MCPSC)Revoking Genesis School Charter Interview with Kevin Foster Executive Director of Genesis School

Category: Education
Frequently Asked Questions about Genesis Charter Revocation Notice 1. On December 15 th, 2022 the Missouri Charter Public School Commission (MCPSC) notified Genesis of their intention to revoke the school’s charter effective June 30 th, 2023. What does this mean? Since January 2022, MCPSC has been the sponsoring agency of Genesis school. Genesis will not be able to operate during the 2023 school year as a public charter school without a sponsor. 2. Is the MCPSC decision final? No. The Genesis board is exercising its right to appeal and has requested a hearing. Revoking Genesis’ charter will require a pending vote of the MCPSC Commissioners and is also subject to appeal to the State Board of Education. 3. If MCPSC doesn’t want to sponsor Genesis, why is it the school’s sponsor? MCPSC became Genesis’ sponsor January 1 t , 2022, following State Board action against the University of Missouri. Per statute, when the State Board removes the authority of another sponsor, MCPSC becomes the sponsor. MCPSC had requested Genesis join their portfolio in 2018 when UMKC divested themselves their eight charter schools, but the Genesis board chose MU at the time. Going forward, any transfer to another sponsor requires consent by MCPSC and approval of the State Board. 4. Why is MCPSC trying to revoke Genesis’s charter? It is unclear. Genesis is currently operating under a five-year renewal approved by the State Board in February of 2020 that runs through 2025. Genesis met the conditions in the contract with MU prior to transfer to MCPSC. We are particularly proud of its efforts to meet the academic needs of students during the pandemic, providing more in-person instruction than any other school within the Kansas City district boundaries. State assessment and other data reflected the growth and improved achievement during the contract. From the beginning of the relationship with MCPSC, Genesis has tried to work with Commission staff to answer their questions and develop a shared vision for serving the Genesis school community. Genesis has met all requirements placed on it by MCPSC, including agreeing to and signing a new performance contract in July 2022. The MCPSC notification and written justification are available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H4s_jVk-QuCCGJRLUyPsCWayNQyT1_ag/view?usp=sharing. . 5. The MCPSC notification says there have been “scattered” instances of growth, but those instances were never sufficient. How has Genesis student growth been measured and how does it compare to others? Of the seven years that the State of Missouri has reported growth, Genesis growth has been above the state mean five times. Three times, the growth was in the top 20% of districts in the state. In 2018 and 2019, corresponding with a new state achievement test, Genesis’s growth was below the expectations of the school, the state, and the sponsor at the time, resulting in Genesis being renewed on probation. Genesis was able to achieve growth in 2021 which was again among the highest in the state. 2021 growth reflects the purposeful implementation of improvement strategies developed with the collaboration and support of our previous sponsor, combined with an unmatched commitment to meet students’ needs during COVID. 6. What about the achievement level of students? How does Genesis compare? No one in education in Missouri should be satisfied with the current achievement levels of students on the state assessment, including Genesis. Each year, Genesis conducts rigorous school improvement planning and implements research-based strategies to improve the academic performance of students. While true that Genesis’ achievement levels are below the state and the KCPS district average (as were 9 of the other 13 MCPSC KC charter schools), it should be noted that Genesis student achievement exceeds the performance of those comparison district and charter schools designated by MCPSC as comparison schools based on location and student demographics. These are the schools most likely to serve Genesis students if Genesis were to close. While the state and most districts within the state are working hard to return to 2019 levels, Genesis’s achievement in 2022 is above 2019 pre-pandemic levels. 7. MCPSC claims that the leadership and board contend students who attend Genesis have no other options for schools. Is this statement true? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Students within the KC Public school system have options and all families who enroll students at Genesis have chosen our school. We believe Genesis provides a level of support for students and families that is unique for an open-enrollment public school within the KCPS boundaries. Our families agree and choose Genesis. Since 2018 Genesis has used the common application, allowing all applicants to choose from a host of schools. Our families choose Genesis for a variety of reasons, including a safe and supportive environment, small school size, on-campus free before and after school care, improved academic outcomes, and location (84% of all students live within 3 miles of the school). Revoking Genesis charter would deny families the option to choose us in a neighborhood with few and decreasing school options. 8. MCPSC indicates that the school has issues with retaining students and alleges that only 1 graduating 8 th grader attended the school in Kindergarten. Is this true and what about transiency? This statement is false. Seven of the 25 graduating 8 graders attended Kindergarten at Genesis in 2013. That said, Genesis takes pride in our ability to help students who have struggled on their academic journey and accept applicants in all grade levels. Many families agree with our approach and transfer to Genesis. More students transfer because they no longer reside within the Kansas City district boundaries than transfer to other schools within the district. This year, 75 new students transferred into Genesis with one-third of them transferring from other Kansas City charters. 22 of the 25 charter transfers came from other MCPSC-sponsored schools. 64% of the students transferring from charters entered Genesis below basic and more than 2 years behind grade level in reading and Language Arts. 9. MCPSC claims Genesis’s academic results over 2 decades fall short of the school’s mission to “Endow students with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary to be successful in college preparatory high school.” How does the school respond? Genesis operates a charter school because we believe the entire system, including Genesis, needs to improve academic outcomes for students, particularly those with risk factors. Every year, the Genesis program and curriculum produce students who transition successfully to college preparatory high schools, while we also continue to proudly serve an at-risk population. The mission of the school, developed by the board in 2015 with input from across the school community and our sponsor UMKC, reflects our academic purpose and high expectations for all students. Separating the mission from the organization’s core belief that high academic outcomes should be the goal for all students, no matter how far along (or behind) they are on their academic journey is misleading and misrepresents the organization. 10. What is the impact on the local neighborhood if Genesis closes? Revoking the Genesis charter and closing the school will negatively impact the neighborhood and community. Genesis and our partner, the Boys and Girls Club play an important role in the local neighborhood as institutions, service providers, employers, and community partners. The school portion of the facility, built with funds raised within Kansas City, operates with an advantageous lease meant to serve the needs of our school community. While MPSC agrees that our services benefit students and the community, they argue these services should not be school-based. Genesis believes that school-based services benefit students, families, and the community, while also contributing to improved academic outcomes. 11. So what happens now? What is next? When Genesis was first informed by MCPSC staff that they were contemplating this action in September, we advocated for a timely and transparent process. On December 23 rd, the school notified MCPSC that we are appealing and requested a hearing at the earliest possible opportunity. When the Commission releases the details about the hearing, the information will be shared with the school and the broader community. 12. If I disagree with the decision and want the Commissioners to hear my voice, what can I do? If the hearing is open to the public, you should attend. You are always welcome to contact the MCPSC Commissioners who will be voting on the proposed revocation. Commissioners are located throughout the state of Missouri are posted on the commission website at https://mcpsc.mo.gov/about-the- commission/commission-members Their e-mail addresses are listed below: Alicia Kotarba: [email protected] Antoine Lee: [email protected] Cathy Jo Loy: [email protected] Delbert Scott: [email protected] Mary Jane Almandoz: [email protected] Peggy Taylor: [email protected] Susan Cole: [email protected];

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