Steamboat Springs The public will be in on north Routt charter school discussions "soon," although a definitive date has not been set, Steamboat Springs School Board member Paul Fisher said.
"It's been private so far," he said. "but we are going to formally present a revised application sometime soon, with a revised budget. All of it is going to be very public here, soon."
By law, the charter school application must be made public at formal hearings.
If the proposed north Routt charter school has some fiscal impact on RE-2, the rest of the Steamboat community may have something to say about it, Fisher said.
"Additionally, by statute, the charter school can't restrict applications for attendance. So maybe there's a lot of the public not really up to speed on what this charter school is all about; a public forum will offer them the chance to make a decision regarding whether or not they want their own children, possibly, to attend the charter school," Fisher said.
Collectively, the North Routt Charter School Committee and RE-2 School Board members Fisher and Matt Hermes have spent hundreds of hours discussing and studying state laws regarding charter schools and education finance.
"It probably seems like it's been taking us a long time to get anywhere," Fisher said, "but we've had circumstances that have set us back to ground zero."
Specifically, north Routt residents interested in starting the charter school initially proposed that it would serve children in kindergarten through third grade, and were hoping the school would be open for classes in the fall of 2000. When it became clear that the charter school would not be open for this school year, parents of third-grade students wanted to expand the proposed grade levels to accommodate kindergarten through fifth grade, Fisher explained.
"So the committee had to re-do their entire budget, which originally accounted for a smaller school with fewer students," he said. "In addition, there probably isn't enough room at the Moonhill Schoolhouse for the additional grade levels."
The North Routt Charter School Committee identified three reasons for establishing an alternative school in its application submitted earlier this year: the distance north Routt students must travel to Steamboat Springs schools, the continued and potential growth of north Routt, and an educational vision that would enhance the sense of community in north Routt.
Before Colorado state funding can be obtained, the charter school application must be approved by the RE-2 Board of Education.
The establishment of a charter school within the Steamboat school district would require the district to transfer a minimum 95 percent of each charter-school student's per-pupil revenue allocation to the charter school.
To obtain approval, the charter school program must be based on effective, research-based strategies that implement proven methods for improving student performance. In continuing discussions, the district and charter school committee must agree on student goals and curriculum methods, waivers of local district policies and state statutory requirements, as well as a charter school budget.
On Tuesday, the District Accountability Committee will have a discussion on charter school issues. The Steamboat school district will also schedule public hearings prior to taking final action on the charter school application.
The next deadline for RE-2 action on the charter school application is Nov. 15. At that time, the Steamboat Springs RE-2 Board of Education could do one of four things: accept the application for a charter school, accept the application with qualifications, reject the application or, with agreement of the North Routt Board, postpone a decision on the charter while work continues.
"The School Board is probably going to take some action soon," Fisher said. "And I think that action will probably say we're going to ask that the DAC run the public forums."
Fisher said he is not sure if the DAC will actually end up running the forums, but that if it does, DAC members need to be getting geared up in understanding, responsibilities, roles and goals.
On Monday night at a School Board study session meeting, Fisher and Hermes will brief the rest of the board on charter school discussions and plans.
To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org