Montessori school approved for three-year charter, could open next fall |

Montessori school approved for three-year charter, could open next fall

— A steering committee working to open a Montessori charter school in Steamboat Springs received authorization from the state’s Charter School Institute Tuesday for a three-year contract.

The committee is now working on taking the next steps for an anticipated opening in fall 2016.

“It’s gratifying,” said Jenn Zuccone, a steering committee member who, along with Kristen Rockford and Jennifer Brossett, has worked to establish the school. “It’s surreal and exciting at the same time. Jenn and Kristen and myself are thrilled, not just for the school, but our whole community.”

Parent and committee member Rockford agreed.

“It’s thoroughly exciting to know that our community will finally have a Montessori charter school,” she said.

The steering committee has also submitted a letter of intent to the Steamboat Christian Center at the south end of town outlining its interest in using some of the center’s facilities to operate the school.

The center is already in the midst of renovations to add a multi-purpose cafeteria/auditorium/gym space and pods for classrooms, regardless of whether the Montessori school moves in, Zuccone said.

“They have invited us to explore leasing their facility as a possibility,” Zuccone said.

The steering committee has been planning the new school for a year and a half, aiming to fill a void organizers think was left when a Montessori program at Strawberry Park Elementary was suspended, in part in 2012 and completely in 2013.

The foundations of Montessori education date back to 1907, when physician Maria Montessori developed an educational method around the idea that children are capable of teaching themselves in a prepared environment.

Montessori practices include mixed-age classrooms, uninterrupted blocks of worktime and freedom of movement within the classroom.

While the committee originally sought sponsorship from the Steamboat Springs School District for the charter, the district’s school board formally released the district’s chartering authority at a meeting last month.

The school is aiming to serve 126 preschool through sixth-grade students during its first year and later expand to serve students through eighth grade. Zuccone said Wednesday that the steering committee has collected interest forms from families representing 139 students.

The steering committee is accepting applications for community members interested in serving on a governing board, which will serve a similar role for the school as a district school board does for a school district.

The board will need five to seven serving members, including community members who are not parents of the school’s students.

The steering committee is also looking for people interested in serving on a fundraising committee or helping with grant writing to help fund school operations.

Those interested in serving on the governing board or a committee or seeking more information about the school can email

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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