St. Paul charter school to close permanently

In the midst of a pandemic, a St. Paul school is set to close for good.

In a letter, the Natural Science Academy says that even after the pandemic ends, its doors will remain closed after a decision by the Audubon Center of the North Woods.

In the message, school leaders say the academy was not granted a one-year extension from the center, as requested.

The decision will force more than 75 elementary students and their families to find another school for 2020-21. Nineteen staff members will also lose their jobs.

According to academy officials, the Audubon Center cited a lack of achievement for the closure, but school leaders say being a small school with young students with limited testing samples, the scores didn't reflect the quality of education. They also believe closing the school during the pandemic was the wrong choice.

"I think it goes without saying that the timing of this news is horrific, and incredibly tone-deaf to the current state of affairs," academy leaders wrote. "We are devastated at the news, and are mortified to tell the families at NSA, that not only will they not be able to return to school for the rest of this school year due to COVID-19, but now will not have a school to return to when schools do open back up."