N. Routt finds a solution

Charter school officials decline financial assistance

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Thanks, but no thanks.

After lobbying the Education Fund Board to provide the money necessary to purchase the North Routt Community Charter School property, North Routt school officials politely declined any financial aid Wednesday.

North Routt School Board President Chris Gander told Fund Board members at their meeting Wednesday that the charter school and Elk River Eagles, a group of North Routt investors that owns the Clark property, have worked out a solution that will allow the land to remain in the hands of North Routt community members.

"We've definitely found a local solution," Gander told Fund Board members, most of whom had planned to vote last night on whether to purchase the property with $265,000 in city sales tax revenue. "The solution works much better for us."

Gander thanked the Fund Board for its willingness to consider purchasing the land and for working cooperatively with Elk River Eagles and the North Routt Community Charter School.

The Fund Board is a 13-member nonprofit group responsible for allocating the city's half-cent sales tax for education.

Ultimately, the local solution was the best option for a small school that prides itself on its community mindset, Gander said.

Under the proposed agreement between the school and the land owners, Elk River Eagles will subsidize the school's mortgage payments for a year, during which the school will kick off a new capital campaign. By next summer, school officials hope the campaign will generate enough funds to purchase the property from Elk River Eagles, Gander said.

"The (North Routt) community is awesome," Gander said. "We couldn't have done any of this without them. A lot of people have stuck their necks out for us."

He also saluted Elk River Eagles for its continued support of the 3-year-old school.

"They've been an incredible group of benefactors for us," Gander said. "They have a great desire to see the school succeed."

The Fund Board had been considering whether to purchase the land and rent the space to the charter school. Some Fund Board members saw the property purchase as an opportunity to help ensure the future success of the charter school while also capitalizing on a good investment opportunity.

The Fund Board offered the Steamboat Springs School District $265,000 for it to purchase the property, but the School Board rejected that gift last month.

Elk River Eagles was asking $365,000 for the land and its buildings. The property has been appraised at $450,000. A historical preservation grant for $100,000 would have significantly lowered the amount of money needed to purchase the property.

Gander said the charter school won't be able to use the grant, which expires July 15. He hopes the school can secure a similar grant in the future.

Also on Wednesday, the Fund Board approved gifts totaling $85,000 for technology training, maintenance and a subscription to the Marmot Community Library system. Those gifts will be offered to the Steamboat Springs School Board at a future district meeting.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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