Two Rivers charter application outlines academic, fiscal goals; cites commonality with Roaring Fork School District
Whether the Roaring Fork School District would be open to sharing future mill levy dollars with Two Rivers Community School is a major consideration as the Glenwood Springs-based state charter school seeks authorization under the local school district.
Existing voter-approved taxes that are already in place cannot be redistributed to include a new school, should TRCS be approved as a district charter.
However, a portion of any new taxes that are approved in future years could be shared — as the district now does with its existing charter, Carbondale Community School.
TRCS has applied to become a district charter school, after having operated as a state charter under the Colorado Charter School Institute since its inception in 2014.
It has concurrently applied for reauthorization with the state, and could go either way depending on the Roaring Fork school board’s decision next month and the outcome of a follow-up negotiation period, according to Jamie Nims, TRCS head of school.
As a state charter, the school now receives $134,000 per year in state mill levy equalization funds. If Two Rivers becomes a district charter, it would not have access to those funds.
So, the local mill levy determination is crucial in the decision-making process, Nims said.
The charter application is currently being reviewed by the district’s Charter Review Committee, and will be referred to the District Accountability Committee for a recommendation.
The Board of Education is currently scheduled to decide on the proposal at its Dec. 11 meeting, though it technically has until Jan. 4 to do so, according to the timeline explained by district officials.
The school board last week heard from several TRCS parents, past students and others who encouraged the district to accept the charter.
“I was part of the conversation when they first came to us as a school board,” former Roaring Fork school board member and current TRCS parent Daniel Biggs said.
The school board rejected Two Rivers as a start-up school, which is why it ended up chartering under the state CSI instead.
“I still think that was the right decision at the time,” Biggs said. “I didn’t think they were ready when they first applied.”
Since then, however, “This has become a world-class school … and I would want to have them be part of our school district.”
Laura Henderson, who resides in the Garfield Re-2 School District and whose children have been attending TRCS since its inception, agreed.
“I watched my daughter change, gaining confidence and really growing,” she said of the choice offered when TRCS was formed. “It’s just a really special place that offers something unique.”
As a Roaring Fork District charter, TRCS would continue to serve students from the larger region extending from Rifle and western Garfield County to Carbondale, according to the charter application.
“We see several major benefits to partnering with Roaring Fork Schools as we move forward,” the school states in the application. “We could learn from one another’s successes and failures …
“At the end of the day, we feel there is far more common ground between Two Rivers and Roaring Fork Schools than there are differences, though we recognize not everyone, including some of our own stakeholders, may agree,” it goes on to state. “We live and work in the same community and we all want the best for our students. It makes sense that we work together to achieve our goals.”
Read the full application here:
Two Rivers operates as a K-8 charter school, employing a “place-based,” experiential learning model with a focus on second-language acquisition and multicultural studies in multi-age classrooms.
The school currently has 351 students, which is just short of capacity for the recently expanded and renovated school building on Center Drive in West Glenwood.
Since opening, TRCS has increased its population of low-income students (as determined by qualifying for free or reduced lunch) from 11.6% to more than 28%.
Also, English language learners made up just 11.6% of students in 2014, but that number is now up to 17.6%, according to the application.
“Two Rivers Community School is fully committed to developing enrollment policies aimed at ensuring our demographics reflect that of our community,” according to the application. “We have modified our enrollment policy several times over the years to try and achieve greater diversity in our school.”
The application also covers student performance goals and standards, student attendance expectations, conduct and discipline, school safety, and programming for second-language, special needs, disabled and gifted students.
School governance and fiscal accountability are also addressed in the application.
In addition to opportunities for the public to comment before the school board at the Dec. 11 meeting, the district has established an online platform where people may offer their comments regarding the charter proposal.
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A state insurance pool refund means most full-time school district employees will get a $550 windfall.