Charter school gifts policy to be reviewed

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North Routt Community Charter School teacher Amy Cosgrove laughs while teaching a writing program Monday afternoon to a group of students at the school north of Clark.

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North Routt Community Charter School second-grader Chris Sessions listens to teacher Amy Cosgrove during class Monday afternoon. The Education Fund Board is reviewing its policy for giving money to charter schools.

— The Education Fund Board is reviewing its policy for giving money to charter schools, a move that has caught the attention of North Routt Community Charter School head of school Colleen Poole.

Since arriving at the charter school in 2004, Poole has gone before the Fund Board for three separate requests for a total of $47,000 - not a substantial amount of money considering the Fund Board annually spends more than $2 million in half-cent sales tax dollars.

But the Fund Board wants a policy in place to dictate how a charter school request should be handled.

"I would recommend we treat the charter school procedurally the exact same as we treat other schools in the district," said Jerry Kozatch, a Fund Board and Steamboat Springs School Board member.

The charter school is a part of Steamboat Springs School District.

Traditionally, requests from schools are filtered through the Fund Board's three commissions - Capital, Educational Excellence and Technology - before funding is approved by the Fund Board.

The Fund Board then gives the money to the School Board, which approves or declines the financial gift.

The process for the charter school is no different, and the School Board has approved a $12,000 gift for the charter school's expeditionary learning curriculum and an $11,000 gift for computers and a reading program since 2004.

A third request for $24,000 for capital improvements is pending.

Poole said she is comfortable with the current Fund Board process, but she understands turnover happens and newly elected or appointed board members have differing views about charter schools, so she wants a policy created to protect her school's interests going forward.

"We want the playing field to be level," Poole said. "In order to protect us for the future, we need to make sure we have something set in place. I'm confident the Fund Board will come up with a policy that's fair."

Poole would like to see an appeal process implemented in case the School Board denies a Fund Board gift to the charter school.

"As long as the School Board is looking at the contract and making decisions based on the contract and it doesn't become a personal issue, than it's not a problem," Poole said. "But if it becomes a personal issue than I would have a problem."

The Fund Board reviewed the policy at its Wednesday meeting, but no action was taken. Several Fund Board members believed it was important to keep the School Board involved in the gifting process for the charter school.

The charter school is its own legal entity and manages its own budget, but it is contractually supervised by the Steamboat Springs School District.

"If we hold the rest of our proposals from commissions to a certain standard we shouldn't expect the standard to be higher or lower with the charter school," Kozatch said.

That's fine with Poole.

"The Fund Board has been great," Poole said. "They are a great group of people. They ask questions, but they are fair."

Comments

Scott Wedel 7 years, 4 months ago

I do not understand why the Educational Fund Board will consider grant requests from the North Routt Charter School and not either South Routt or West Routt.

Either the city generated sales tax is to be spent for the benefit of city residents in which case it needs to be spent at schools providing services to the children of Steamboat Springs (which may include other children as well).

Or the sales tax should be distributed around the community and thus consider funding requests from South, West and North Routt.

When I voted for the Educational Fund sales tax, I did not consider whether it should be limited to children of Steamboat Springs or of children of the region. I do know that I certainly never intended it to benefit the children of North Routt while excluding children of South and West Routt.

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fish 7 years, 4 months ago

Well then you should have made sure that it was a county wide tax and not just a city tax. North Routt Charter School gets money because it is part of the Steamboat Springs School district and SOROCO and Hayden Schools are not. For them to get funds they would need to become part of the Steamboat Springs School District. Duh!

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geezer 7 years, 4 months ago

Some Steamboat kids and Hayden kids, for that matter, commute to North Routt for the special programming and small class sizes that are offered. So the tax does serve the children of Steamboat Springs.

NRCCS receives a relatively miniscule amount of funding. The more important issue is that the Fund Board appears to be subservient to the RE-2 School Board instead of the constituents that supported the Educational Fund sales tax.

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