Friday, February 27, 2004
The Steamboat Springs School District and Steamboat Springs Montessori continue to work toward a settlement agreement, nearly two weeks after the School Board approved a resolution ending a lengthy dispute between the two.
At its Feb. 16 meeting, the School Board approved a resolution whereby the district will create a multi-year Montessori pilot program at Strawberry Park Elementary School in conjunction with Steamboat Springs Montessori dropping its lawsuit against the district.
The Montessori group filed its lawsuit in July after the School Board refused to accept a state Board of Education order to approve a Montessori charter school application.
Attorneys representing both sides are in the process of drafting the language of the settlement agreement, which will identify the various points the groups agreed to during the four months of negotiations that led to the resolution, school district attorney Dick Lyons said Friday.
Lyons sent a copy of the settlement draft to Steamboat Springs Montessori attorney Bill Bethke earlier this week. Lyons said he hasn't heard from Bethke since the draft was sent.
Montessori group member Jody Patten said she received a copy of the draft and was waiting to review it with other members of the group.
Both groups said they're looking forward to finalizing the settlement agreement.
"We're trying to get to it as quickly as we can," Patten said.
The finalized agreement is expected to provide a clearer picture of how the Montessori strand may look next fall. However, one of the best indicators will be the interest in the program, Patten said.
"We can't really know what the strand will look like until we gauge interest," she said.
Patten expects that process will begin next month.
The district is looking forward to completing the formal agreement and moving ahead with plans for the Montessori program, School Board President Paula Stephenson said.
"We want to get this done as soon as possible because we want to start the program in the fall," Stephenson said Friday.
Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis will update the School Board at its study session Monday on how he plans to educate district families and the community on the Montessori method of education.
District officials say educating the community on the two educational options offered to students next year is key to ensuring parents make an informed choice for their students.
The strand is expected to include at least one first- through third-grade class, depending on enrollment.
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