Report provided to Estes Park School Board on charter school application – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

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The Estes Park School Board received a report from District Advisory and Accountability Committee at its Monday night meeting regarding the Loveland Classical School’s application to open a charter school in Estes Park.
While it was expected that the report would make a recommendation to the board of education, the committee’s 18-page report did not take a direct position on the application.
The report presented some of the strengths of the Loveland School’s application, but the bulk of the report expressed concerns and raised questions about bringing a charter school to Estes Park.
The report explains that the District Advisory and Accountability Committee is charged by Colorado State Law and the Estes Park School District to review any charter school application and report “strengths, concerns, and questions” to the Estes Park School Board.
The DAAC decided that given the length of the application and timing, the committee decided to divide the review into parts, with individual members taking responsibility for specific parts. The parts were then assembled into one document for the committee to review and have further input.
The committee’s report highlighted concerns about the Loveland school purpose, its impact on district and existing schools and staff to provide services to our youth, the sustainability of the school, its curriculum and culturally responsive teaching practices, its understanding and providing for students with special needs, the lack of certification requirements for teachers and administrators, its extra-curricular programming, its facilities, and the makeup of its operating board.
The report mentioned strengths of the Loveland Classical School, including that the school has a 10-year history of being an efficient and well-managed charter school; that the Core Knowledge, Great Works, and Singapore Math are nationally recognized programs; that a critical thinking model is included; that curriculum maps are provided for grades and subjects which align with the Colorado Academic Standards and provide transparency; that the school policies are basically compliant with state and federal laws and practices and with legislative intent for diverse choice options (a classical school) for students and families; that the application has a general understanding of special education services and framework in the context of the larger student body at the school based in Loveland; that the policies show a general understanding of discipline procedures of special education students in regards to manifestation determination and change of placement due process; that the budgets show standard accounting practices; that the school shows proof of insurance; and that the application states that Loveland school has strong relationships with the Colorado Department of Education Schools of Choice Unit as well as the Colorado League of Charter Schools for new charter school support.
The remainder of the report raises concerns and asks questions about how the school would operate and meet the needs of students in Estes Park.
The concerns raised included a focus on how the classical school operates in Loveland which is a different community with a different student population than Estes Park.
One of the criticisms was that the application was not tailored enough to the particular differences and needs of the Estes community in comparison to Loveland, a community more than 10 times larger.
The report was particularly critical of the financial drain on the Estes Park School District and the fact that as the new charter school starts, class size would be as small as six pupils per grade. The report states that “classes smaller than 6 students lack substance.”
Although the report does not make a recommendation to the Board of Education, the report was more critical than it was supportive of the application of the Loveland Classical School.
The Estes Park Board of Education will make a determination on the application at its February 27 meeting.
The members of the District Advisory and Accountability Committee of the Estes Park School District include Bev Bachman and Cerissa Hocker, Co-Chairs Shari Baze, Courtney Cabrera, Glenn Case, Tom Cousineau, Joe Frey, John Guffey, Terry Leija, Duane Loyd, Dick Mulhern, Judi Smith, Gayla Sullivan, and Marsha Weaver.
The full report is available at https://www.estesschools.org/cms/lib/CO01900728/Centricity/Domain/363/DAAC%20LCSEV%20BoE%20Report.pdf
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