Ross Montessori plans coming along
The Ross Montessori School Steering Committee’s plans for a new school include a downtown Carbondale location, a new administrator and modular buildings with room for 142 students.The committee leased 1.5 acres at Fourth and Merrill, on the site of the North Face’s old base camp, said spokeswoman Carolyn Fisher. The committee ordered eight classrooms around a central all-purpose room. The structure is modular and temporary, but all the rooms will fit under one roof, she said. “For a modular, it’s pretty charming,” she said. The building should be delivered by July 1 and constructed by Aug. 1, she said. The location will work fine as a temporary site for the school, said Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig. Hassig did have some concerns about safety, since the site lacks sidewalks and curbs and is in an area of town that gets heavy use by trucks.Fisher said the site will be fenced and is no more dangerous than any other part of downtown Carbondale with regard to traffic. Hassig also had lingering concerns about the racial division the school helps create in Carbondale. This spring, many of the Carbondale trustees signed a letter to the state agency that approves charter schools, urging it to deny the school’s charter application based on fears of segregating schools. Out of 142 students enrolled, 25 percent are Latino. The school had been hoping to have a 30 percent Latino population, and will continue outreach efforts, Fisher said.A new charter school does present some challenges for the Roaring Fork School District since it will likely lose students and about $6,200 per student in state funding. The district has been planning for a loss of between 140 and 160 students, and should be able to absorb the loss next year, said assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall. The district may also have to rearrange some bus schedules as students that were once in the Montessori strand at Carbondale Elementary School leave for Ross, she said. The steering committee also hired Mark Grice as the head of the new school. Grice has 20 years of experience in education, but not in Montessori. His kids are in Montessori, and Grice will receive Montessori training. Grice holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, she said. The steering committee also hired seven teachers. Five or six of those teachers will join the school from the Montessori strand at CES, Fisher said. “We’re terribly excited, and it’s going to be a great school,” she said.
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