The Thompson School District Board of Education unanimously denied a charter school application from Red Rock Academy during a special meeting today. A resolution for denial listed nine key reasons for the action (resolution attached).
The vote by the board follows weeks of discussion, several open meetings, a community forum and reviews by the community, staff and the District Accountability Committee. The next step for the founders of Red Rock Academy in Berthoud is to appeal to the state Board of Education.
Staff recommended denial because of several unanswered concerns and evidence did not bear the need for a charter school in Berthoud according to three criteria cited in state statutes: adequate community support, choice in educational programming and legitimate educational need.
Regarding the first criteria, response from the Berthoud community has been heavily opposed to the school. Attendance at a community forum held in Berthoud drew 279 people, most of whom wrote or voiced a lack of support for the school. A grassroots group of Berthoud area citizens has also been active in opposing the school, demonstrating that there is not adequate support nor is the school in the best interest of the students or community.
For the second criteria, a report prepared by Deputy Superintendent Dr. Judy Skupa cited Colorado Revised Statute [CRS 22-30.5-102(2)(f)] that addresses “expanded choices in the types of education opportunities that are available within the public school system” to support the district’s concerns. The report noted that the proposed charter offered little choice not already offered in Thompson except for providing a different facility. The application also proposed a strong integration of the arts programs. Such a program is available at Garfield Elementary School.
The third criteria seeks evidence of educational need. The report provided data showing high academic achievement at the current Berthoud schools and supplied charts and other data from the Colorado Department of Education comparing various indicators in Berthoud and Union Colony School in Greeley, which is the model for Red Rock Academy. Skupa said the data indicates no significant need has been demonstrated.
Reviews by the District Accountability Committee and experts, including charter school representatives, required review of key consideration including alignment to state standards (required by law); elementary curriculum; impact on resources; financial data; facilities; and governance. The teams evaluated 18 components, including a checklist of required elements, overall score, strengths, concerns and additional questions and recommendations for each component. The final DAC recommendation included approval in four areas, conditional approval (needed more information) in 11 areas and denial or no rating in three areas. The final staff review included approval in five areas, conditional approval in three areas, and denial in nine areas.
Accompanying Resolution by the Thompson Board of Education
THOMPSON SCHOOL DISTRICT R2-J
BOARD OF EDUCATION RESOLUTION DENYING THE CHARTER SCHOOL APPLICATION OF RED ROCK ACADEMY
WHEREAS, pursuant to the Charter Schools Act, C.R.S. §§ 22-30.5-101 to -115 (the “Act”), Red Rock Academy (the “Charter Applicant” or “RRA”) submitted a charter school application to the Board of Education (“Board”) of Thompson School District R2-J (“District”) for approval as a charter school in the District for the 2012-13 school year; and
WHEREAS, the Board held public meetings, hearings, and a community forum on October 10, 2011, October 13, 2011, October 19, 2011, and October 27, 2011, to solicit public comments in an effort to obtain information to assist the Board in making a determination on the charter school application and during these meetings the Charter Applicant responded to questions from the Board regarding the charter school application; and
WHEREAS, the charter school application has been reviewed by the District Accountability Committee (“DAC”) during three meetings held on September 28, 2011, October 3, 2011, and October 13, 2011, and by the Board, as required under C.R.S. § 22-30.5-107(1) and (1.5); and
WHEREAS, the charter school application has been reviewed by District staff pursuant to the Colorado Charter School Standard Application, Check List, and Review Rubric as well as the requirements of Board Policy and Regulation LBD, LBD-R, and recommendations were given to the Board for its consideration; and
WHEREAS, the Board has thoroughly considered the charter school application, the requirements of the Act, the information presented by the Charter Applicant, the comments and concerns of the DAC, information and recommendations provided by District staff, and testimony and information from the public.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Board, that the RRA charter school application is hereby denied for the following reasons:
- There is overwhelming community opposition to the Charter Applicant’s proposed school. Among other things, the local electorate has expressed a strong desire that their tax burden not be increased by an additional school, that resources not be further diluted, and that their tax dollars be used for educational purposes other than support of RRA.
- The Charter Applicant failed to demonstrate that there is a legitimate educational need in the local community for the educational programming it desires to offer or how its proposed program and purchased curriculum will align with required state standards and provide higher levels of student learning.
- Insufficient evidence was presented to indicate that demand for RRA exists in the local community and that enrollment projections by the Charter Applicant will be met.
- The Charter Applicant has not demonstrated that its plan and/or its budget are economically sound as required by the Act.
- The Charter Applicant failed to provide a viable facility plan in the charter school application.
- The Charter Applicant failed to provide a specific plan for the recruitment and retention of a student population that reflects the demographics and diversity of the District as a whole.
- The plan for the instruction of English Language Learners is inadequate and will serve as a barrier for those students’ desired enrollment and success at RRA.
- The Charter Applicant failed to demonstrate equal access to educational programming by not providing transportation and food service plans, thereby creating a potential barrier to students who require those services to attend.
- The Charter Applicant failed to provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within district schools.
Adopted this 27th day of October, 2011.
THOMPSON SCHOOL DISTRICT R2-J
Lucille Steiner, President
Sharon Olson, Secretary