Two Rivers Community School to consider re-chartering under Roaring Fork School District
Two Rivers Community School in Glenwood Springs may re-charter under the Roaring Fork School District, but the school will also concurrently seek to renew its state charter this fall.
“Our board made the official vote in June to submit an intent to apply with the school district,” said Jamie Nims, the new head of school at Two Rivers this year. “The board is going to explore both options, and ultimately it will be a board decision.”
The school, which serves about 350 students drawing from both the Roaring Fork and Garfield Re-2 school districts, was chartered under the Colorado Charter School Institute when it was founded in 2014.
Its programming is tailored around projects-based learning and bilingual immersion in Spanish and English.
Two Rivers first sought to become a district charter school using the expeditionary learning model. After being initially rejected by the district, it was approved to become a state charter school.
The school is now looking to the potential benefits of being re-chartered under the local school district, Nims said.
That’s partly because of the recent charter school compact discussions the district that oversees traditional public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt has been having with local charters.
In addition to Two Rivers, two other charter schools operate within the school district boundaries — Carbondale Community School, which is chartered under the district, and the state-chartered Ross Montessori School in Carbondale.
“There is some resource sharing that, at the end of the day, could be beneficial to our students,” Nims said. “Because we are in a renewal year, and because that relationship has improved, we saw it as a good opportunity to re-apply with the district.”
He added that the Charter School Institute has been great to work with. “There’s no animosity there,” Nims said.
But there is a per-pupil funding deficit under the state charter that the school could make up by being re-chartered under the school district, he said.
As a state charter, Two Rivers also cannot benefit from some of the local tax dollars that go to the school district. The district has included Carbondale Community School in some of its mill levy override and bond issue dollars for teacher pay and facility improvements.
“There’s also the possibility to share resources for student transportation needs,” Nims said.
Two Rivers operates three school buses, and has a smaller passenger van for student transportation needs, but does not have a dedicated maintenance facility, he said.
The school is also carrying a $10 million debt on the recent expansion of its facility on Center Drive in West Glenwood.
“For us, the greatest reservation [in becoming a district charter] is autonomy,” Nims said. “We want to retain our own board and our own program academically, and would have no interest in joining the district if that were to change.”
The school will have until Sept. 30 to submit a full application to the school district, and will simultaneously re-apply with the state.
The Roaring Fork School board this week had a brief discussion about the timeline to consider the application once it’s submitted. Because of the election for three school board seats in November, the board will try to complete its review before that time to avoid having a split review between two different boards.
About 60% of the current students at Two Rivers come from within the Roaring Fork district, and 40% from Garfield Re-2 and District 16 in Parachute, Nims said.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.