North Routt school charting the future

During a school year characterized by an increase in student enrollment, a new teacher and a new yurt, North Routt Community Charter School officials are beginning to plan for the future.

Colleen Poole, director of the 33-student kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Clark, said about 10 parents and community members attended a meeting Tuesday to discuss growth plans for the school. The meeting was the first of six intended to gather public input and create a strategic plan that will set clear guidelines for the school's development throughout the next five to seven years.

North Routt Community Charter School officials have begun a series of meetings to develop a long-term strategic plan for the school. Following is a list of future meetings and topics. All meetings are from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the school's new yurt.

Feb. 28 -- Finance and facilities

March 7 -- Curriculum and academics

March 28 -- Staff and administration

April 4 -- Parents, student body, volunteers and extracurricular activities

April 18 -- Community fundraising

Contact: Call the school at 871-6062 or meeting facilitator Roy Powell at 846-1661.

That development may proceed slowly, Poole said.

"There was a lot of discussion about keeping the school very small," she said, identifying a future enrollment of 60 to 75 students as a possible ceiling.

The charter school, which is in its fifth year, had 22 students enrolled last year. Enrollment jumped 50 percent this year.

Given that growth, as well as the hiring of former Steamboat Springs Middle School math teacher Linda Wilson and the construction of a 30-foot-wide yurt that opened in December, Poole said the school's five-member board thought it was time for serious discussions and planning.

"The board was feeling like they had not connected with the public for several years," she said. "We've grown quite a bit this year."

North Routt resident and charter school board member Roy Powell is facilitating the meetings. A former executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Powell also became involved with the Whiteman Primary School when his son was a student there.

"I did a fair amount of strategic planning for those organizations," he said Friday.

Powell said creating a strategic plan is not only about documents and policies.

"About half of the benefits you get from strategic planning come from the actual process, by getting people working together and talking," he said. "Whatever we end up doing, it's going to have a great deal of benefit for the kids up there."

A topic at the Feb. 28 meeting will be finances, which Powell called "one of the more challenging" issues for the small school that is chartered by -- and receives per-pupil funding from -- the Steamboat Springs School District.

"One of the discussions we'll have is how to secure long-term funding beyond the per-pupil amounts," Powell said.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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