N. Routt contract extended

Agenda Item 22 was little more than a formality at Monday night's Steamboat Springs School Board meeting.

But the matter-of-fact contract-extension agreement reached between the school district and North Routt Community Charter School is a significant milestone for the Clark-based school.

"It's a great thing," charter school Director Mary Bramer said. "It's finally in the bag. Now we can really start planning."

The two groups began working on the language of the contract extension in January but were unable to reach a Feb. 1 Charter Schools Act deadline for an agreement. The groups agreed to extend the deadline until March. The bulk of the agreement was reached weeks ago.

The school district, represented during negotiations by Superintendent Donna Howell, Finance Director Dale Mellor and School Board member Tami Havener, and the North Routt Community Charter School, represented by Bramer, School Board President Chris Gander and bookkeeper Terri Reeves, were able to reach agreement on five issues at the heart of the negotiations.

Charter school officials agreed to a three-year extension, though they had sought five years.

"It's not really a big deal," Bramer said.

The school's students will receive special education services identical to those received by students in other district schools. The school will receive a prorated portion of the Amendment 3A cost-of-living revenue from the district provided it meets specific reporting guidelines.

The two groups also agreed to student accountability stipulations.

A minimum student enrollment provision mandates the school have 19 students in kindergarten through fifth grade or 22 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to continue operation. But Howell and Bramer said there was some flexibility in that provision.

The district's primary concern with the charter school's enrollment is its ability to remain fiscally viable, Howell said. The requirement also will place emphasis on the school's need to recruit students to establish stability.

"We want to see them succeed," Howell said.

Nineteen students are enrolled in the school, and Bramer said she expects that number to increase next year in the anticipation of additional kindergarten students.

"I think it's going to work just fine," Bramer said.

The relationship between the charter school and the district has improved greatly over the past year, Bramer said.

"We look at that as a great plus for the future," she said.

The charter school is the result of an effort by North Routt parents to have a place-based education option reflecting the values of the community as well as a local school that prevents students from having to ride school buses to and from Steamboat for two hours each day.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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