Who are City Garden Community Partners?
City Garden Community Partners is a network of local businesses, corporations, metro-area leaders, nonprofit organizations and individuals who support the mission and vision of City Garden Montessori school.
Education is a key component of neighborhood and community development in the City of St. Louis. Indeed, the future of our city in many ways rests on the development and sustenance of outstanding K-12 educational institutions.
City Garden is a “bright spot” among the struggling education systems in St. Louis. We at City Garden are asked multiple times each week to consider replicating our model, so that more children and families in St. Louis can benefit from the type of education we provide, and so that more neighborhoods can benefit from a strong neighborhood school serving as an anchor.
We are proud of the leadership we offer in educational reform in our city, and we invite you to join us as partners in our mission.
What Makes City Garden Unique?
The mission of City Garden Montessori School is to provide a high-quality education to a diverse student population following the philosophy of Maria Montessori, and to cultivate young people who value and respect themselves, others, the environment, and the world community.
The vision of City Garden is that, in the process of nurturing our students to be competent, creative, lifelong learners who practice compassion, respect, nonviolence and sustainability, we will strengthen families, the neighborhoods we serve, and the City of St. Louis as a whole.
In order to fulfill our mission and vision, we believe the following are imperative:
· Two instructors in every classroom
· Individualized curriculum/ work plans for each student
· Classrooms with full sets of Montessori materials
· A full-time Family Support Coordinator
· Outstanding Special Education Services through The Belle Center
· High-quality Professional Development for teachers and staff
· A facility that is conducive to our Montessori philosophy and community-building
The education we deliver is on par with independent schools that charge between $10,000 and $18,000 per year. Our goal in opening a Montessori charter school in the heart of the City was to provide this type of excellent, individualized education, and to make it accessible to families from all socioeconomic backgrounds. We knew this would be a challenge. But, we have remained steadfast and determined in our goal. And, many community members have helped make it possible.
We continue to invite community members to join us as partners in this endeavor. We know that many of you share our determination to provide an excellent education to every child in St. Louis. Becoming a City Garden Community Partner is one opportunity to do this.
The average per-student expenditure in public school districts in the U.S. is $11,600. The top-performing states spent an average of $13,182 per student in 2009 (most recent data available). We receive approximately $8,000 annually per student in state and federal funds. Our annual per-student cost is approximately $11,600 leaving a $3,600 gap per child. We work hard to keep administrative costs to a minimum, taking into account the intense administrative requirements of being a charter school.
In order to sustain and improve our excellent education and holistic approach to serving children and families, we must “close the gap” of $3,600 for each student.
Why Become a City Garden Community Partner?
At City Garden, we have an audacious mission and vision. Our school has been developed by community members, for our neighborhoods, and provides a model for:
· Outstanding, innovative education - With its individualized Montessori approach, City Garden has shown exceptional academic outcomes, on par with high-performing suburban districts. City Garden was named Charter School of Excellence in 2012 and has been a top-performing charter school in St. Louis and in Missouri for the past three years.
· Effective neighborhood and community development - Our school is an anchor for the neighborhoods we serve. Families are moving into and staying in our neighborhoods, “establishing roots” to stay long-term and invest in the community.
· Interactional diversity - As part of its mission, City Garden actively chooses to take on one of the most pressing challenges our city faces: racial and economic segregation. City Garden is intentionally designed to serve neighborhoods that are economically and racially integrated, and to serve a student population that reflects these demographics. Through our curriculum, programming, professional development and parent engagement, we aim to build an institution that is actively anti-racist and anti-biased. As a result, we have an authentically integrated student body, cultivate family relationships across race and class and develop young people so that they will be critically thinking, culturally competent leaders and participants in our community.
We want to build upon what we provide for our children, families and neighborhoods. We also want to consider how we might contribute more deeply to the larger movement to improve education in our city.
We know that many businesses, corporations and individuals share our passion to improve educational options and the overall well-being of our city.
As a City Garden Community Partner, you can be part of the change, and publicly support innovation in education and effective community development.
How Has City Garden Funded Growth So Far?
We were extremely fortunate to win two very large start-up grants in 2007 and 2008: $560,000 from the U.S. Department of Education, and $250,000 from the Walton Family Foundation. Without these initial funds, City Garden’s charter school could not have opened. And, City Garden’s Primary School would not be where it is today.
The final funds from these grants were expended in late 2011. In order to continue to accomplish the vision outlined in our Strategic Plan, which includes improving our commitment to Montessori and increasing our programming and offerings, we will need to establish a robust network of supporters and investors.
The reality for charter schools is that we do not receive the amount of funds necessary to provide the quality of education our children and families deserve.
In order to do things like raise staff salaries to market rate, increase teacher support and planning time, build our outdoor play yard, increase arts programming, integrate our Primary and Kindergarten classrooms, implement a Farm to Table food program, increase afterschool and extra-curricular programming, and many more things, we will need to work hard to surpass our operational fundraising need.
Please join us in this effort. Together we will continue to create a wonderful school and community for our children and families.