Friday, May 6, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Charter school students participated in a mock trial and a debate at the Charter School Day at the Capitol activities on Thursday.
These pictures are from the rally on the west steps of the Capitol. The rally was hosted by the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Numerous legislators spoke to the crowd of students, parents, teachers, administrators and guests.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The 7th and 8th grade students at Northeast Academy Charter School (NACS) in Denver had a challenging day. It was Challenge Day. Challenge Day is a program designed to break down cliques, prevent bullying and build positive relationships between students. Today's event was held at the Boys and Girls Club of Denver in Montbello.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
1. Win: HB 1089: Collaboratives. Allows charter schools to seek competitive grants within ESEA.
2. SB 188: Moral obligation program. Charter schools go through the State Treasurer’s office to get better bond financing ratings. The bill would have increased the $400 million cap, but that was removed. The bill removes application fees to enter the program. The manager will be the Treasurer’s office. In case of a default, the Treasurer will consult with a team of impacted entities to determine how to handle the potential default.
3. Loss: HB 1055: Improve charter school access to facilities. Passed the House, assigned to Senate State Affairs where it died. Will be reconsidered for next year.
4. HB 1277: Massey’s omnibus bill. Removes unnecessary reporting requirements including
a. Access to data. Designed to eliminate district’s not providing data to their charter schools in a timely manner.
b. Additional criteria for high risk student definition. Adds “over age and under credit” to the definition. This definition is used to define Alternative Education Campuses (AECs)
c. Grant collaborative. The State Board would be able to promulgate rules to allow collaboratives to be designated as the LEA.
d. School Food Authority. Adds charter schools to the entities permitted to be School Food Authorities. Currently charter schools must access the program through one lead school and that school carries all the liability. There are 18 charter schools under one SFA this year.
e. Online reporting requirements. Eliminates annual report to CDE, which has been replaced by requirements in the Financial Transparency Act and the Education Accountability Act.
5. Budget cuts. Cut proposed now is $22.5 million less. Plus a planned mid-year distribution if the June forecast is better. There will definitely be a cut in K-12 funding again next year.
6. New bill by Senator Keith King to be introduced next week. Proposes mill levy matching funds at a quarter of a percent (CVote). Requires districts to include charter schools if they run a mill levy ballot question.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
- Offering Innovation schools that operate with waivers from things such as the district's collective bargaining agreement and offer a mission-focused, unique type of school.
- Marketing to inform parents about quality choice options available to them.
- Conducting parent and community meetings designed to explain the school district's vision for reform and better equip parents to make decisions for their child's education.
- Closing schools that are not performing academically.
- Signing the "Denver Compact," an agreement between the charter schools and the district designed to improve communications and reinforce commitments to each other.
- Ensuring each of the zones in the district (geographical regions) have a complete array of choice offerings and that certain zones don't have the vast majority of choice options.
- Opening an Office of School Reform and Innovation (OSRI) with a mission to increase choice options and ensure these options are all top-quality.
- Commiting to offer all DPS students a quality education.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Congratulations to the Jefferson Academy Jaguars boys basketball team for getting second at the state 3A tournament. JA lost to the Faith Christian Academy team 49-41.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Imagine opening a brand new charter school and having to hire everyone from the maintenance person to a full slate of classroom teachers. Daunting? Yes!
Over 500 teachers showed up for the chance to submit their resumes and hopefully interview with more than 43 charter schools today. The job fair, hosted by Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, allowed for a great networking opportunity for both teachers and charter school leaders in need of staff.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
DSST will get $72,500 and W Denver Prep $58,000 from this grant, which will be used distribute their best practices to other urban charter school leaders.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Much of the debate centered on the charter school's contention that their growth data showed them doing as well or better than the other 60 Alternative Education Campuses (AECs) in the state. The school, which has been open since 1996 has consistently scored at the very bottom of achievement measures throughout its history. The related concern about student attendance was another area receiving a fair amount of discussion. The district stated the charter school doesn't send any students to truancy hearings even though the service provided by the district, doesn't have any cost for the school.
The board's discussion after both sides presented their cases was about there being an alternative that was a credible place for the students to attend if it weren't for the charter school. Currently the district has an administrator at the charter school and the charter school is operating without a contract or waivers. The district stated they were prepared to take over the school and even pay rent to the charter school's leaders in order to continue to use the facility.
The Lotus board operates a school in the Aurora School District and planned to replicate its program in Longmont. The St. Vrain Valley School District denied the application due to concerns about conflicts of interest, comingling of funds, governance not being local, projected enrollment, facility issues, and it not being a unique choice within the district. The district hit hard on what it considered inappropriate financial transactions by the Lotus board in Aurora, which was that board members secured personal loans to cover facility costs. Loans from two former board members are still outstanding.
The charter school developers explained their intentions for board governance that included parent representation on the board and a School Accountability Committee at each location.
After little discussion the State Board voted for a motion brought by Marcia Neal to uphold the local school district. State Board Chair, Bob Schaffer, was the lone nay vote for the motion. Both Paul Lundeen and Marcia Neal expressed their desire to support charter schools, but were uncomfortable in supporting this particular charter school given concerns that had been raised during the hearing.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The charter school founders met with Thompson School District staff and board members in a workshop session prior to the regular board meeting. During the workshop many of the possible contingencies were discussed. School district board members conveyed the belief that they would have to approve the charter because of pressure from the State Board of Education. LCS appealed the board's earlier decision to deny the charter school application and the applicants were supported by the board in a remand order to the Thompson board. The two parties now have 90 days to work out contract terms.
After being approved, LCS founders announced that their new principal will be David Yu, a teacher at Ridgeview Classical School in Fort Collins and a Thompson high school graduate.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Cyber school families from all over Colorado gathered to celebrate Cyber School Day at the Capitol. The opening session was led by Independence Institute Education Policy Analyst, Ben DeGrow, who talked about the prevalence of online education in the state and the choice options available to families. Later, there was a rally on the west steps of the Capitol.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Governor's letter explaining the budget is here. The letter states that 41% of the state budget is spent on K-12 education. The total reduction for Total Program Funding will be at $836 million.
Vody Herrmann, the Asst. Commissioner and Director of Public School Finance, followed the Hickenlooper budget presentation with an email explaining the Governor's budget and providing additional detail for school districts here.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Thompson has only one charter school -- New Vision Charter School - and it also had to appeal before being approved by the local district. The district has less than 2% of its students enrolled in the charter school. The state average is 8.97%.
The district used the new charter school application review rubric and pointed out deficiencies in the application based on that review. Attorney for the charter school, Barry Arrington, pointed out that no charter school application is perfect and with a 1,000 page application, the charter applicants had certainly provided everything necessary to be approved to open a new charter school.
A couple of State Board members raised concerns about the short timeline in which to open a new school and Chairman Bob Schaffer pointed out that Liberty Common School in Fort Collins (which he helped start) was approved in June and opened two and a half months later. He also noted that most of the charter school either have just as short a timeline, or even shorter.
Loveland Classical School plans to open with grades K-11 in the fall. They already have almost 1,000 students already expressing an interest in attending.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The committee amended the bill to require charter schools to notify their school district if they intend to apply for a grant through CSI. The committee approved the amended bill on a 10-3 vote and sent it to the floor of the House for second reading.
Monday, January 31, 2011
The bill establishes a fee-based certification process through CDE that is similar to the online certification process enacted in 2007, SB 215. The process requires CDE to evaluate an application and then provide continuing monitoring and oversight. The bill also limits the terms of contracts with EMOs to two years subject to annual review. It requires a charter school using an EMO to review the EMO's performance at least annually.
SB 69 also requires the HB 1412, charter school standards and charter school authorizer standards advisory committee, to make recommendations on EMOs. On Jan. 5th the committee held a hearing on management company issues.
In Colorado, the term Education Service Provider (ESP) is generally used for all sorts of management companies. EMOs are generally for-profit management companies and Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) are nonprofit. CMOs may include one-off replications. Hudak's bill defines EMOs to mean all types of management companies and doesn't clearly differentiate for vendors contracting with districts for specific services such as operating an online school.
The sample contract language has an attachment dealing with ESP provisions that should be considered by charter school governing boards and charter school authorizers. Further, the contract has an attachment for board members to disclose a number of things including a conflict of interest with the management company. These types of examples provide increased awareness about the issues of greatest concern for quality relationships.
Update: SB 69 will be heard in Senate Education on Thursday, Feb. 10th.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Supporting the school district the majority of the time was also true in the early years of charter schools in Colorado. Before 2000 there were 53 charter appeal hearings and 32 times the State Board supported the district's decision to deny the charter application.
From 2004 to 2007 there were 44 appeal hearings filed. It was during this period that the State Board members began searching for another way to conduct appeal hearings. Members Randy DeHoff and Karen Middleton convened a couple of meetings to discuss alternatives which included expert reviewers, a rubric for reviewing charter applications and as different type of hearing process.
This discussion led to the creation of the standard charter school application, checklist for completion and review rubric in 2008 and then charter school appeal hearings dropped dramatically. In 2007 there were 10 appeal hearings and that dropped to one in 2008 and none in 2009.
The development of the standard applcation by the CDE, Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Charter School Institute was revolutionary in that it was the first time the "three C's" collaborated on a project. And it was only the beginning.
Following the standard application, charter school authorizers asked for sample contract language. That was developed in 2009 and just recently revised. The sample contract has something for everyone to love or hate. Some of the provisions are tougher than districts currently use. The contract delineates the responsibilities of both the charter school and the charter school authorizer; a first for many Colorado charter school authorizers to consider.
There has been eleven times that the State Board of Education ordered a district to open a charter school. However, that has only resulted in one charter school actually opening (Imagine Charter School at Firestone).
The first time the State Board took this type of action, the case was taken to the state Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall Charter Middle School was proposed by an African-American teacher in Denver -- Cordia Booth. The Supreme Court ruling declared that while the State Board did have authority to order a district to open a charter school, it could not dictate the provisions of the contract.
When the Charter Schools Act was adopted in 1993 it was a pilot program with a sunset of 1998. When the sunset provision was lifted, almost half of the charter schools in the state were open due to the appeal process.
Friday, January 14, 2011
There are 22 certified multi-district online schools operating in Colorado. Only four of those are charter schools, which means that the bulk of them are operated by school districts in an effort to keep students that don't fit in a regular classroom model.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Testifying for DPS staff, a member of the Application Review Team (ART), noted that the entire application lacked coherency. For example, the school said they'd be implementing the IB curriculum, but that wasn't reflected in their budget.
New board members Paul Lundeen (5th CD) and Dr. Debbe Scheffel (6th CDE) both asked questions during the hearing and voiced their support for high quality charter schools. Ultimately, all seven State Board of Ed members voted against the charter school applicant.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
In a game that was dominated by the Jefferson Academy Jaguars the entire time, JA beat Peak to Peak 77 to 48. Most of the game the Jaguars' score was double that of P2P, but in the last quarter the JA Junior Varsity allowed Peak to Peak to pick up a few additional points.