Tentative date set for school appeal

Montessori application will get final look


— A tentative date is set for the second and final appeal of a Steamboat Springs Montessori charter school application.

The state Board of Education has tentatively scheduled the appeal for its April 9 work session in Denver, Montessori Steering Committee President Jody Patten said.

Bill Bethke, the steering committee's attorney, filed a notice of appeal Friday after the steering committee learned it had been awarded legal funds from the Colorado League of Charter Schools' newly established Legal Advocacy Fund.

Without the additional funds, which total $6,250, the steering committee probably couldn't have afforded legal costs for the second appeal, Patten said.

"It's really good news for us," Patten said. "It's a vote of confidence from the League of Charter Schools."

If the state board approves the charter school application and a contract between the Steamboat Springs School District and the steering committee is negotiated, legal costs for the committee will total about $12,500, Patten said.

That cost includes all work performed by Bethke on behalf of the steering committee since last fall, when the application process first required legal assistance.

Neither district Superintendent Cyndy Simms nor school board President Paul Fisher could be reached for comment.

The school board rejected the Montessori application for the second time at its March 3 study session. It initially denied the application at an October board meeting.

According to the Colorado Charter Schools Act, the steering committee had 30 days to appeal the second denial. Now that the state board has received a notice of appeal, it will hear arguments from attorneys representing both sides and make a final decision on the charter school application.

The state board's decision will be final and not subject to appeal.

If the state board approves the Montessori charter school application, the steering committee and the local school board will have to negotiate a contract.

The school board has maintained that a charter school's financial impact on the district and the lack of a financially sound budget for the proposed charter school pose serious risks to the school district.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com


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