Charter school gifts policy to be reviewed |

Charter school gifts policy to be reviewed

North Routt Community Charter School teacher Amy Cosgrove laughs while teaching a writing program Monday afternoon to a group of students at the school north of Clark.
John F. Russell

— The Education Fund Board is reviewing its policy for giving money to charter schools, a move that has caught the attention of North Routt Community Charter School head of school Colleen Poole.

Since arriving at the charter school in 2004, Poole has gone before the Fund Board for three separate requests for a total of $47,000 – not a substantial amount of money considering the Fund Board annually spends more than $2 million in half-cent sales tax dollars.

But the Fund Board wants a policy in place to dictate how a charter school request should be handled.

“I would recommend we treat the charter school procedurally the exact same as we treat other schools in the district,” said Jerry Kozatch, a Fund Board and Steamboat Springs School Board member.

The charter school is a part of Steamboat Springs School District.

Traditionally, requests from schools are filtered through the Fund Board’s three commissions – Capital, Educational Excellence and Technology – before funding is approved by the Fund Board.

The Fund Board then gives the money to the School Board, which approves or declines the financial gift.

The process for the charter school is no different, and the School Board has approved a $12,000 gift for the charter school’s expeditionary learning curriculum and an $11,000 gift for computers and a reading program since 2004.

A third request for $24,000 for capital improvements is pending.

Poole said she is comfortable with the current Fund Board process, but she understands turnover happens and newly elected or appointed board members have differing views about charter schools, so she wants a policy created to protect her school’s interests going forward.

“We want the playing field to be level,” Poole said. “In order to protect us for the future, we need to make sure we have something set in place. I’m confident the Fund Board will come up with a policy that’s fair.”

Poole would like to see an appeal process implemented in case the School Board denies a Fund Board gift to the charter school.

“As long as the School Board is looking at the contract and making decisions based on the contract and it doesn’t become a personal issue, than it’s not a problem,” Poole said. “But if it becomes a personal issue than I would have a problem.”

The Fund Board reviewed the policy at its Wednesday meeting, but no action was taken. Several Fund Board members believed it was important to keep the School Board involved in the gifting process for the charter school.

The charter school is its own legal entity and manages its own budget, but it is contractually supervised by the Steamboat Springs School District.

“If we hold the rest of our proposals from commissions to a certain standard we shouldn’t expect the standard to be higher or lower with the charter school,” Kozatch said.

That’s fine with Poole.

“The Fund Board has been great,” Poole said. “They are a great group of people. They ask questions, but they are fair.”

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