Montessori leader recognized for charter school advocacy work
September 29, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Mountain Village Montessori Charter School Head of School Michael Hayes was recognized earlier this week for his work advocating for rural charter schools on a state and national level.
Hayes was awarded the A+ Advocacy Award from the Colorado League of Charter Schools for his efforts to advocate for rural charter schools and equitable funding for charter schools in Colorado.
Prior to assuming his post as head of Mountain Village Montessori, Hayes was the director of Crestone Charter School, a 100-student, K-12 school in rural southern Colorado.
The new award was given to Hayes, along with two Denver-metro area charter school leaders and three legislators during the league's 2016 Fall Charter School Summit Sunday.
"It always feels good to get recognized for your work, but all I am is a spokesperson for parents and other charter schools who are looking to get equitable resources," Hayes said Thursday.
Representatives from the Colorado League of Charter Schools said it was Hayes' strong voice for rural schools and his legislative presence that earned him the award.
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"He has made the long trip to Denver on several occasions to give powerful public testimony at the capitol on topics ranging from equitable funding to enhanced flexibility," said Dan Schaller, Colorado League of Charter Schools' director of governmental affairs.
Hayes said charter schools face challenges other public schools don't when it comes to receiving equitable funding.
Charter schools sponsored by districts, such as North Routt Community Charter School, lose some portion of their pass-through funding to districts to pay for things such as administrative help or special education. That amount can vary by district.
Additionally, while district-sponsored charter schools are invited to the table to discuss mill levies and bond measures that might be proposed by a district, there is no requirement to include state-sponsored charter schools in those discussions.
Districts have no legal obligation to include any charter schools in mill levies or bonds, though Steamboat Springs School District leaders in the past have indicated their intention to include North Routt's needs in a future bond.
North Routt's students are accounted for in the proposed mill levy override to fund full-day kindergarten, but Mountain Village Montessori students are not.
Hayes earlier this year advocated for and offered testimony in support of state bills intended to change these rules and allow more opportunities for charter schools to receive equitable funding. While Senate bills 187 and 188 passed, Hayes said they were heavily revised and did not change the way charter schools are left out of tax overrides.
Hayes said he has also severed on panels at the state and national level and presented at workshops about rural charter schools.