Committee to advise board on charter application


— The Montessori Steering Committee members are hoping they will not have to wait too long before finalizing their plans for a public Montessori charter school.

Jody Patten of the Montessori Steering Committee said the public school is planned to open in the fall of 2003, but progress on developing the school is limited until the school has a charter. The board of education has until Aug. 21 to hold two public meetings and vote on the charter application.

The steering committee met with the District Accountability Committee last week, one of the first steps required in the charter school application process. The DAC is a school board committee that represents the community's input about school issues in the Steamboat Springs School District. The DAC will advise the school board before board members vote on the charter.

Patten said the school district has asked for an extension and would like the steering committee to meet with the DAC Sept. 3 to go over the charter in detail. The new timetable would set back the dates of the public hearings and the board of education's vote.

Debbie Jansen, co-chair of the DAC, said if the steering committee denied the extension, the district would be responsible for moving up the Sept. 3 meeting. She said the DAC will tentatively finalize its comprehensive review of the charter to give to the school board Sept. 3 or earlier if requested.

Patten said the steering committee is hesitant to allow an extension without seeing a long-term schedule.

"We have a five-page timeline to open by fall of 2003. We promised parents we would open then," Patten said. She said any delay in the process would jeopardize getting the school ready to open in time.

"There are a lot of families counting on it," she said.

The first meeting between the DAC and steering committee, Patten said, was very positive, and she hopes the charter will be accepted without having to go to the state board with appeals.

"We had a really productive first meeting. The DAC read through the charter and asked questions. They gave us a lot of good suggestions," she said.

Patten said the DAC mainly suggested changes to the language of the charter and will provide a more thorough examination of issues at the next meeting.


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