K-12 Dealmaking: Springboard, Asteria Education Make Acquisitions

Contributing Writer

This week ends with Springboard Education’s acquisition of Kids’ Adventures, a provider of before- and after-school programs. Also, Asteria Education has acquired ECS Learning Systems, and Aperture Education and Kickboard are partnering to assist schools with collecting, monitoring and analyzing data on student behavior.

Springboard Acquires Kids’ Adventures: Springboard Education, a Lexington, Mass.-based provider of extended-day learning programs for students at elementary and middle schools has acquired Kids’ Adventures, a before- and after-school care provider in the Denver, Colo. area, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The company has been growing rapidly for the past two years through new partnerships with school districts,” Springboard said, noting that with this acquisition the company has expanded its school footprint to 108 sites nationally, including 43 schools in Colorado. Springboard expects to acquire other local after-school companies and is currently in active discussions with several potential businesses, the company added.

“While I have had great success in the past 15 years, I feel the sale of Kids’ Adventures to Springboard has positioned our programs to take [our] mission to the next level,” said Tom O’Connor, the CEO and founder of Kids’ Adventures.

Asteria Education Acquires ECS Learning Systems: Asteria Education has acquired Texas-based test preparation publisher ECS Learning Systems and ECS company Novel Units, LLC to provide a platform for national expansion. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Asteria will continue to do business as ECS Learning Systems, according to a statement.

ECS provides test-prep materials and software for reading, writing, mathematics, science and critical thinking skills. The new ECS Learning Systems team is evaluating additional acquisitions and “making substantial investment to nationally enhance and expand” its educational programs, the company said, adding that the team plans to modernize and diversify the product portfolio in order to aggressively grow its client base through an expanded multi-state sales strategy.

ECS CEO David Cumberbatch, a former executive at college and career assessment company ACT, said his company’s “fundamental goal is to offer quality educational solutions throughout the US market and to leverage the latest innovations in adaptive learning and educational technology, marking a new direction for ECS Learning Systems.”

Last month, Asteria received $4 million in financing from commercial finance and debt restructuring firm Business Capital to acquire ECS.

The Stepping Stones Group Acquires Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services: The Stepping Stones Group, a provider of therapy and education solutions to children with special needs and autism in educational settings, has acquired and recapitalized Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services, a provider of speech language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and school psychology services to school districts in the southeastern United States, according to a statement. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquisition of Georgia-based Cobb Pediatric will further expand the company’s footprint to now span more than 25 states, according to a statement from Stepping Stones. The company completed two previous add-on acquisitions in the past two years, acquiring AlphaVista Services in June 2016, and Staffing Options & Solutions in June 2017 to accelerate growth and gain access to new geographies across the United States.

“With Stepping Stones’ reach and expertise, Cobb Pediatric will now be part of a larger platform to empower even more schools and more therapists to help children with special needs reach their potential and lead fulfilling lives,” said Cobb CEO June Whitehead.

Stepping Stones provides services to over 300 school districts and 42,000 children across more than 20 states and is a portfolio company of Five Arrows Capital Partners, the North American corporate private equity business of Rothschild Merchant Banking.

Kickboard and Aperture Form Partnership: Social-emotional learning company Aperture Education and Kickboard, a provider of technology and coaching for school culture initiatives, have formed a partnership aimed at helping schools collect, monitor, and analyze data on 40 student behaviors that tie to the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (the DESSA) core SEL competencies, according to a statement from the companies.

The DESSA, which is published by Aperture Education, measures students’ social emotional competencies while the Kickboard platform is designed to allow teachers to record and analyze student behavior in real time.

As part of the partnership, Kickboard and Aperture Education have developed the DESSA SEL Inventory, a new tool designed to help districts more frequently monitor student behaviors related to key social and emotional skills.  The DESSA SEL Inventory is available exclusively on Kickboard’s platform and is free to Kickboard customers.

“Our partnership with Kickboard will provide schools with the most comprehensive tool for measuring students’ social and emotional skills,” said Jessica Adamson, CEO of Aperture Education.

Added Stefan Kohler, CEO of Kickboard:  “By integrating our inventory with the DESSA, schools and districts can get an accurate picture of how their SEL and PBIS programs are impacting student behavior.”

Spark Hire Integrates With TalentEd: Video interviewing platform Spark Hire has integrated with TalentEd Hire, a K-12 education applicant tracking solution, the companies said.

Using the Spark Hire and TalentEd integration, individuals involved in the hiring process at a particular school or district can send customized interview questions to every viable candidate, view and share candidates’ responses, eliminate time spent on traditional screening calls and assess candidates from remote locations with little to no cost, according to a statement.

“This strategic partnership delivers key functionality our customers need to quickly and affordably screen and hire top candidates, so they can maximize time and resources spent empowering student achievement,” said Jack Blaha, CEO of PeopleAdmin, TalentEd’s parent company.

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