KANSAS CITY — The opening of a proposed arts high school in downtown Kansas City could be delayed because it lacks a sponsor.
Three colleges have turned down requests to sponsor the Kansas City School of the Arts charter, which planned to open next fall. The school would provide dance, theater and vocal music classes to about 300 students in grades nine through 12.
The proposed school's executive director, Stephen Aspleaf, says the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg and Kansas City's Metropolitan Community College rejected sponsor requests.
"We may not be able to open this fall as we had planned, because right now everything is on hold,'' Aspleaf told The Kansas City Star.
The arts school is now appealing to the state to allow it to look to Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville for sponsorship.
Aspleaf says he expects to hear from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education after Jan. 15 about sponsor options.
Kansas City now has 18 charter schools, with UMKC sponsoring seven of them, MCC one, the University of Central Missouri nine and MU one.
UMKC has agreed to sponsor another charter that's described as an alternative school for "dropout recovery.'' It is set to open in July.
"It is not that there are too many charters in the city,'' Aspleaf said. "I think they want to spend the time fixing what they have first.''
Charter schools are public and receive state funding but are governed by independent boards. In Missouri, charter schools can only be located within the Kansas City or St. Louis school districts. They also have to be sponsored by a school of higher education.
The Kansas City School of the Arts was awarded a $146,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2007. The federal grant, which is being issued over two years, is for planning costs.
The school has hired a principal and several teachers and held practice auditions since getting the grant.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, www.kansascity.com