When -- and if -- a Steamboat Springs Montessori charter school will open for students remains unclear, even though the Colorado Board of Education ordered the Steamboat Springs School Board more than three weeks ago to approve the charter school application.
The Steamboat Springs School Board met with its attorney, Chris Gdowski, during a closed-door, executive session special meeting Friday.
Superintendent Cyndy Simms said she could not comment on the specific discussions that took place during the meeting, but that "the purpose (of the meeting) was to talk about what various options the School Board has."
"That's what happened," Simms said. "The next thing that's going to happen is (further discussions) at the May 19 board meeting."
The board hasn't decided what its approach to the state board's order will be because the board can't take any action during executive session, Simms said.
Simms said she didn't know whether the May 19 discussions would take place during executive session.
School Board President Paul Fisher wasn't at Friday's meeting and was unavailable for comment.
On April 9, the state board ruled that the School Board's decision to reject a Montessori charter school application for a second time "was contrary to the best interests of the pupils, school district or community."
In a letter to the school district, the state board remanded the matter back to the local board with instructions to approve the charter application.
At the local board's April 14 meeting, board member Tom Sharp questioned whether the board has to negotiate a contract with the Montessori applicants. Sharp said the board may choose not to negotiate, depending on advice it receives from Gdowski.
The Montessori applicants, led by Montessori Steering Commit-tee President Jody Patten, have urged the School Board to accept the state board's decision and begin contract negotiations in hopes the charter school can open this fall.
"It's unfortunate that they've decided to delay yet again. It's unjustified under the law," Patten said. "We're still analyzing what this means in terms of our ability to open next fall. But one thing is sure: We will open this school."
With facility renovation and staff hiring on hold until a contract between the charter school and the district is in place, Montessori supporters fear the charter school will not be able to open in time for next school year. The charter school committee held an informational hiring forum earlier this week and has advertised for positions, but cannot officially employ anyone until the contract is signed.
Furthermore, the Montessori applicants can't access nearly $200,000 in grants until a charter is in place.
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