St. Louis, Mo.—Confluence Academies today announced a reorganization involving Aspire Academy and Old North Academy campuses. Beginning with the Fall 2021 Semester, Aspire students in grades 3 to 8 will attend school at Old North. Aspire will take on a new emphasis of early learning, concentrating on grades pre-K to 2. Moving grades 3 to 8 will affect approximately half of Aspire’s students, based on 2020-2021 enrollment. Furthermore, transportation services will continue for both Aspire and Old North students.
“These changes enable us to better serve our students, their families and our community while continuing to improve our network’s financial position,” Confluence Chief Executive Officer Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver said. “This reorganization is, in part, also a response to lower student enrollment, particularly in the north city area, a fact of life which is causing many school systems to rethink their operations. But as part of our ongoing commitment to both community and achievement, this reorganization focuses our efforts on our students and staff while recognizing the duties that we have to the broader community. Consequently, we remain in continual conversations with other public and charter schools in an effort to ensure quality school options for families. Aspire is an important part of the Walnut Park neighborhood, and it will remain so,” Dr. Carter-Oliver said.
In addition to its new exclusive focus on early childhood development, Aspire Academy will continue several partnerships that enhance the campus and serve Aspire’s families and neighbors. The “wraparound” services at Aspire, such as the Affinia Healthcare Clinic, will continue. School-based health centers have become an important method of health care delivery for youth who are confronted with financial, cultural, and geographic barriers. The clinic at Aspire eliminates barriers to healthcare and will continue to have a positive impact on the entire community.
Confluence is also continuing Aspire’s partnership with the St. Louis Pre-K Cooperative and will be improving the Aspire campus with new greenspace and outdoor infrastructure through a partnership with MSD Project Clear.
At Old North, Confluence will continue its broad-based emphasis on STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and the addition of Aspire students will not have a significant effect on class sizes. Old North will also continue its important work with several community partners, all of which contribute to the education of our students while also enriching their lives.
The “Believe” Literacy Project highlights the work and significance of Black authors; the Little Bit Foundation works with us to build students’ confidence, dignity and all the other qualities that lead to successful lives; Building Futures gives our students the opportunity to invent and make objects with our hands in a workshop environment—making a connection between classroom learning and practical problem-solving skills for daily life.
Old North will also introduce an Esports program in the Fall. Esports (also known as electronic sports) is an organized form of competitive video gaming where players participate individually or in teams to face opposing schools/players. Confluence introduced Esports at Confluence Preparatory Academy in 2020 and looks forward to the expansion to Old North—an excitement that Old North students will likely share.
Dr. Carter-Oliver noted that the Aspire/Old North reorganization is the continuation of years of effort on the part of so many people at Confluence. “We have worked hard to ensure that our students and families are well-served and that our communities are strengthened through the presence and the contributions of our campuses,” she said. “Properly matching resources and needs remains a significant element in our long-term ability to serve.”
Dr. Carter-Oliver further noted that in 2020, Confluence succeeded in substantially completing 94% of the tasks identified in its 2015 strategic plan, which had four main priorities: 1) teacher recruitment, retention and reward, 2) ongoing curriculum development, 3) strong and stable finances, and 4) community and family engagement. “Our success in each of these areas is the result of the dedicated and talented team of people at all our schools and those in our resource office. I cannot thank them enough,” she said.
Today’s announcement is in keeping with Confluence’s 2020-2023 strategic plan, which also includes four priorities:
- Teacher Recruitment and Retention. Building on the success of the previous strategic plan, Confluence should continue to explore strategies that will make Confluence Academies an “employer of choice” for new and experienced educators.
- Addressing and Stabilizing School Enrollment. Confluence should determine the strategies necessary to stabilize enrollment in the schools it operates and, where possible, increase the number of students and families Confluence Academies serves.
- Assessment and Evaluation of Student Success. Confluence should increase its capacity to collect and synthesize data that allows leaders to describe students’ educational success.
- Fund Development. Confluence Academies should prioritize strategies that create opportunities to raise additional financial backing for the network’s operations, facilities, and the support provided to students.
About Confluence Academies
Confluence Academies is a non-profit public charter school system that strives to provide the highest quality pre-collegiate education to students in pre-kindergarten through high school. The district operates five schools in the City of St. Louis: Aspire Academy will serve grades pre-K to 2 beginning in Fall 2021, Old North and South City serve grades pre-K to 8, while Confluence Preparatory Academy serves grades 9 to 12 and Grand Center Arts Academy serves grades 6 to 12. University of Missouri—Columbia is the charter sponsor for all Confluence schools.
Since its establishment in 2003, Confluence Academies has grown from a single public charter school with 245 students to a network of five schools serving nearly 3,000 students. For more information, visit confluenceacademy.org.
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