Wednesday, February 11, 2004
The Steamboat Springs School District and the North Routt Community Charter School are nearing completion of a contract extension for the 3-year-old Clark school.
Superintendent Donna Howell is scheduled to meet with charter school director Mary Bramer on Monday to finalize contract language. The agreement should be presented to the School Board at its March study session.
"We've pretty much wrapped up all the issues," Howell said Tuesday.
The School Board likely will take action on the extension at its March 15 meeting.
The two sides began negotiating the extension last month in hopes of reaching agreement by Feb. 1, the deadline set by the Colorado Charter Schools Act for a school board to approve or deny a charter renewal application.
Unable to meet that date, both groups agreed to extend the deadline until March, Bramer said Wednesday.
At the heart of the negotiations have been five issues the charter school and the district need to work out, Howell and Bramer said. Those issues include special-education funding, the duration of the contract extension, accountability for the charter school and minimum student enrollment with the charter school.
Neither official would comment on what agreements had been reached on those issues.
Bramer submitted a charter renewal application to the School Board in December. The renewal requested a five-year extension that would end at the conclusion of the 2009-10 school year, when North Routt officials estimate the school's population will number 30 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Howell and Bramer said the negotiations have gone well. The charter school is being represented in negotiations by Bramer, North Routt School Board President Chris Gander and school bookkeeper Terri Reeves. Howell, School Board member Tami Havener and Finance Director Dale Mellor are representing the school district.
The cooperative process is a significant change from the negotiations that preceded the original opening of the school in 2001, Bramer said.
The original North Routt Community Charter School application was approved with conditions by the School Board in January 2001, almost eight months after it was submitted. North Routt parents sought a charter school for Clark-area children as part of an effort to emphasize place-based education, foster a sense of community and prevent students from having to spend two hours a day riding buses back and forth from North Routt to Steamboat schools.
The charter applicants appealed the approval with conditions to the State Board of Education. The School Board and the applicants eventually negotiated the contract that has governed the school since its opening.
"It's a very different situation than what it was," Bramer said of the present negotiations. "I give Donna Howell a lot of credit for making that so. She's been very forthright and cooperative."
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