Steamboat Springs The fate of the proposed Montessori charter school will remain in limbo.
The Steamboat Springs School Board and the Montessori Steering Committee have agreed to extend the deadline by which the school board has to accept or deny the amended Montessori charter school application.
The board was scheduled to make a decision on the application at tonight's board meeting, but that decision will be postponed until the March 3 study session.
The Montessori committee, which scrambled to prepare an addendum to its application in case the extension wasn't approved, said the extra time will help it finalize important information such as facility costs.
"It gives us a chance to make the district feel more comfortable (with the application)," said Montessori Steering Committee President Jody Patten. "(The extension) doesn't delay any of the critical things."
School board President Paul Fisher said two board members will volunteer to work with the Montessori committee before the March 3 study session and iron out any existing issues between the two sides.
The school board denied the initial charter school application in October. Its decision was appealed to the state Board of Education, which remanded the application back to the district for reconsideration.
The local board and the Montessori committee discussed application revisions at last week's board study session. Much of the discussion centered on the potential charter school's financial impact on the district.
School district finance director Dale Mellor presented five-year district budget plans at the session. The projected budgets showed an increasing deficit for the school district, though only about one-third of the deficit could be attributed to the potential Montessori school.
Patten acknowledged that the school district is facing a tough situation with regard to state funding, but the impact a Montessori school can have on the community is worth the money, she said.
"From all the children who will benefit from this school, those benefits far outweigh the costs," Patten said. "I still believe that we represent just a little over 1 percent of (the district's) budget in our first year of operation. The second year we're talking about 2 percent to 3 percent. I think that's tiny."
If the school board again denies the charter application, the Montessori committee can appeal the decision back to the state board. The state board would hear arguments from both sides and issue a final decision.
Because the Montessori charter application decision will occupy much, if not all, of the March 3 study session, the school board decided to use tonight's meeting as an opportunity to take care of policy review work that has accumulated over the last couple months, Fisher said.
"(Tonight) is going to look more like a study session," he said.