Thursday, January 11, 2001
Steamboat Springs With the deadline for the review of their application by the Steamboat School Board fast approaching, the members of the North Routt Charter School Board are determined to prove the worth of their proposal.
Thursday night at Olympian Hall, the charter board presented its ideas about starting a school in north Routt to a generally supportive crowd, who, along with members of the District Accountability Committee, weighed the pros and cons of the proposed school.
The proposed charter school would be on a three-year contract and would cap at 25 kindergarten to fifth-grade students. The school could potentially expand to include students as old as eighth-graders. The charter group is requesting 95 percent of per-pupil funding from the Steamboat Springs school district. The charter group also wants the district to cover its liability and insurance costs.
The school would offer traditional classes such as math and reading along with more place-based learning opportunities, in which the children could have more contact with their own community.
"Isn't that what we all want?" asked Steamboat resident Linda Andrews. "Isn't that why we don't send our kids to boarding school?"
The strength of the school's academic program, said School Superintendent Cyndy Simms, is not a question. The district is concerned, however, about a number of other issues. Among those issues are the location of a suitable facility, long-range funding, accountability and the money the city schools may have to give up next year in order to get the school started.
The members of the charter board say that the facilities issue can be taken care of, possibly by using the Moonhill Schoolhouse on County Road 129 just south of Clark as a site. The long-range funding source, as well, may be achieved through a number of grants. The first of those grants, from the Walton Foundation, rolled in last week. The charter board wants to deal with accountability, an issue for a lot of the DAC members, on a more local basis and will have to approach the school board about that option.
The money, however, may become a bit of a sticking point.
Simms said that because the new school would be taking 25 students from the established city schools, the per-pupil state funding for those students would leave with them. That could mean a net loss of about $145,000, she said. If the students departing allowed the school to drop a teacher or two, the impact of losing $145,000 would be lessened.