State, Re-1 forge agreement for future charter proposals

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 is finalizing an agreement with the Colorado Charter School Institute that will establish a formal working relationship whenever a new charter school is proposed within the district.

“This gives us an opportunity to fully analyze a charter proposal using the expertise of the charter institute, which has the people power to evaluate an application and monitor a school after it opens,” said Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko.

“It also allows us to express the community needs that we feel should be considered whenever a new charter school is proposed,” she said.

A memorandum of understanding between the two entities has been in the works since the spring, and is nearing final approval by the respective boards.

It will be similar to, though less extensive than, an agreement signed between the state charter institute (CSI) and Aurora Schools.

It also grew out of the recent joint review of the Glenwood Springs Two Rivers Expeditionary Learning School charter proposal.

That application was submitted to both the state and the school district for consideration last year and underwent an extensive review by both entities before being rejected. The school re-applied with the CSI this year and was eventually approved in June to become a state charter school starting in fall of 2014.

“This really goes back to the conversations between the district and the charter institute over the TRES application, and looking at ways we can work more closely in the future,” Sirko said. “It’s a way for both organizations to gain from the expertise of each.”

Currently, one state charter school operates within Re-1, the Ross Montessori School in Carbondale, while the Carbondale Community School is chartered under the school district.

In agreeing to work with the CSI, the district will not give up its right to seek exclusive chartering authority in the future, according to the draft agreement.

School districts can obtain exclusive chartering authority, which means a charter application must first be made to the local school district before they are allowed to seek approval through the state.

Roaring Fork Re-1 has opted not to seek such authority, although other area school districts, including Garfield Re-2, do have exclusive chartering authority.

The district also plans to ask the Colorado Board of Education to allow the district to use a spring application process for new charter proposals, same as the new state charter application period. Currently, school districts are required to accept and review charter applications during the fall.

The Re-1 school board is expected to give final consideration to the agreement at its Aug. 21 meeting in Glenwood Springs.

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