Charter school sponsor loses one school, opens up another in Dayton

The STEAM Academy charter school closed this summer in northwest Dayton, but the same sponsor and operating company is behind a new charter school, Montgomery Preparatory Academy, which is opening this fall in Southeast Dayton.

STEAM Academy of Dayton operated at the Our Lady of Mercy school just west of North Main and Siebenthaler the past five years, serving about 250 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Its focus was the traditional STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) plus arts. But the school’s academic performance was among the lowest of local charter schools, according to the past two state report cards.

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The Ohio Council of Community Schools had been STEAM’s sponsor, but the school notified OCCS in December that it would seek a new sponsor, according to Jason Wall, vice president of policy for OCCS.

“The charter contract was up at end of the 2017-18 school year, and they were going through our reauthorization process,” Wall said. “We sent them all kinds of data from those five years, and maybe they thought … their grades weren’t the best, and they may or may not have been renewed. Maybe they didn’t want to take that chance, so they non-renewed with us, so they could seek other options.”

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STEAM did not secure a new sponsoring agency to provide oversight, so under Ohio law, the school had to close.

Wall said the Ohio Council of Community Schools is the sponsor of the new Montgomery Preparatory Academy charter school, which opens this fall on Smithville Road, just south of Watervliet in the Belmont neighborhood.

Wall said OCCS began the process of opening the new school before STEAM Academy nonrenewed its contract with the group. The new school will also serve grades K-8 but without the STEM-plus-arts model. ACCEL Schools of Ohio, which was the operator of STEAM, will also handle day-to-day operations of Montgomery Prep.

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“They have already hired staff, they’re conducting professional development training and enrolling kids. It’s well on its way,” Wall said.

OCCS for years worked hand-in-hand with charter school sponsor the University of Toledo, which was ranked in the top 25 percent of charter school sponsors in Ohio the past two rating cycles.

Other charter changes

Imagine Woodbury Academy in Harrison Twp., just off North Main Street north of Shiloh Springs Road, has merged to become part of its sister school, Imagine Klepinger, according to school officials. The Woodbury campus, which had served early kindergarten through fifth grade, will now serve early-K through second grade. Imagine Klepinger, just north of Siebenthaler Road, will serve grades K-8.

Richard Allen Schools switched sponsors, from the Ohio Department of Education, to St. Aloysius Orphanage, which has been rated as an "effective" sponsor each of the past two years. Richard Allen Superintendent Michelle Thomas said there will be no change in the three Richard Allen campuses (two in Dayton and one in Hamilton) and what grades they serve. This is Richard Allen Schools' 20th year in Dayton.

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