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Gazette Premium Content Charter seeks student improvement in proposed D-49 transfer

KRISTINA IODICE Updated: October 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

As a large, statewide online school seeks to transfer its state charter to growing Falcon School District 49, east of Colorado Springs, one brick-and-mortar charter school may be considering an exit.

The school that wants to join D-49 is one of the state’s worst performers according to state records including test results, with high rates of students who are considered high-risk, and who qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Officials said joining D-49 could give GOAL a boost.

“We want to do what’s best for our students,” said GOAL Academy Assistant Executive Director Kris Enright.

The other school — Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch — has contacted the state’s Charter School Institute about splitting from D-49. The district would have to approve the change.

The D-49 school board expects to soon vote on granting a charter to GOAL Academy, an online high school. The board has work session planned for Wednesday that may be preceded by a special meeting, and a regular board meeting is set for Nov. 8.

GOAL Academy’s charter with Colorado Charter School Institute expires in June, and would be the school’s first re-authorization since it severed ties with the Cesar Chavez School Network in late 2009.

There are more than a dozen GOAL Drop-In Centers around Colorado, allowing students, parents, and learning teams to meet as necessary for things including tutoring.

Last year, GOAL Academy enrolled about 2,700 student in grades nine through 12. More than 70 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Since 95 percent of students meet at least one indicator for high-risk students, the school is also considered an alternative education campus.

Online and alternative education campus designations mean the school is held to different standards, which have seen a lot of changes in recent years, officials said.

The Colorado Department of Education has researched best practices and other details tied to operating online schools, with a report due this month.

“We’ll have accurate information to possibly make policy changes,” said Amy Anderson, associate commissioner. The state certifies all online schools and the process is now more rigorous than before, she said.

GOAL Academy submitted an application to transfer its charter to D-49 in September. and has been working with CSI on a potential charter extension. The CSI board of directors considered a two-year extension for GOAL Academy as recently as September.

In a letter addressed to the GOAL board dated Sept. 23, the CSI board expressed disappointment that a final agreement on guidelines, including measures and procedures for most of GOAL’s students, could not be reached. The sticking point was a single measure of student performance and achievement, Enright said. “We simply ran out of time,” he said.

CSI has offered more time for either a contract extension or charter renewal to give D-49 officials time to act, Enright said. All the work between CSI and GOAL would carry over into D-49 discussions, he said.

“CSI has been a good partner,” Enright said. “They want good things for kids.”

D-49 offers more services and is better aligned with GOAL, he said.

The D-49 school board heard a lot about GOAL Academy at a meeting earlier this month.

The school would offer another option students and boost funding for at-risk kids, iConnect Zone Leader and Assistant Superintendent Kim McClelland said.

“GOAL Academy is a low performing school, that’s no secret,” McClelland said Friday. “We expect to have high performing schools.”

According to state records, GOAL was deemed “accredited with priority improvement plan” although they had shown improvement from the prior year.

GOAL has taken strides to improve student performance, she said.

“We’re not going to lower the standards,” McClelland said.

D-49 offers experience with charter and online schools, she said. The organization of the district and work on blending online and in-class school work, and flexibility, makes the district uniquely suited to help GOAL, she said.

The GOAL application went through an extensive review in D-49. A contract will be worked out only after the board approves a transfer.

As for Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch, there has been no formal transfer request, she said, although officials have talked about it.

Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch opened in 2008, and has about 800 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Imagine is part of the community,” McClelland said. “Unless something changes, I don’t foresee us releasing their charter to CSI.”

Another charter school using the same management company, Imagine Pioneer Academy lost a lengthy fight last year to open a charter school in District 49.

The Imagine Classical Academy applied for two charters in 2007. The District 49 school board approved both applications that fall. The economic downturn stalled work on the second campus. The charter school board and the district agreed at the time to resubmit the application in 2010. No problems were expected, but the district rejected the application.

Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

As a large, statewide online school seeks to transfer its state charter to growing Falcon School District 49, east of Colorado Springs, one brick-and-mortar charter school may be considering an exit.
The school that wants to join D-49 is one of the state’s worst performers according to state records including test results, with high rates of students who are considered high-risk, and who qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Officials said joining D-49 could give GOAL a boost.
“We want to do what’s best for our students,” said GOAL Academy Assistant Executive Director Kris Enright.
The other school —  Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch — has contacted the state’s Charter School Institute about splitting from D-49. The district would have to approve the change.
The D-49 school board expects to soon vote on granting a charter to GOAL Academy, an online high school. The board has work session planned for Wednesday that may be preceded by a special meeting, and a regular board meeting is set for Nov. 8.
GOAL Academy’s charter with Colorado Charter School Institute expires in June, and would be the school’s first re-authorization since it severed ties with the Cesar Chavez School Network in late 2009.
There are more than a dozen GOAL Drop-In Centers around Colorado, allowing students, parents, and learning teams to meet as necessary for things including tutoring.
Last year, GOAL Academy enrolled about 2,700 student in grades nine through 12. More than 70 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Since 95 percent of students meet at least one indicator for high-risk students, the school is also considered an alternative education campus.
Online and alternative education campus designations mean the school is held to different standards, which have seen a lot of changes in recent years, officials said.
The Colorado Department of Education has researched best practices and other details tied to operating online schools, with a report due this month.
“We’ll have accurate information to possibly make policy changes,” said Amy Anderson, associate commissioner. The state certifies all online schools and the process is now more rigorous than before, she said.
GOAL Academy submitted an application to transfer its charter to D-49 in September. and has been working with CSI on a potential charter extension. The CSI board of directors considered a two-year extension for GOAL Academy as recently as September.
In a letter addressed to the GOAL board dated Sept. 23, the CSI board expressed disappointment that a final agreement on guidelines, including measures and procedures for most of GOAL’s students, could not be reached. The sticking point was a single measure of student performance and achievement, Enright said. “We simply ran out of time,” he said.
CSI has offered more time for either a contract extension or charter renewal to give D-49 officials time to act, Enright said. All the work between CSI and GOAL would carry over into D-49 discussions, he said.
“CSI has been a good partner,” Enright said. “They want good things for kids.”
D-49 offers more services and is better aligned with GOAL, he said.
The D-49 school board heard a lot about GOAL Academy at  a meeting earlier this month.
The school would offer another option students and boost funding for at-risk kids, iConnect Zone Leader and Assistant Superintendent Kim McClelland said.
“GOAL Academy is a low performing school, that’s no secret,” McClelland said Friday. “We expect to have high performing schools.”
According to state records, GOAL was deemed “accredited with priority improvement plan” although they had shown improvement from the prior year.
GOAL has taken strides to improve student performance, she said.
“We’re not going to lower the standards,” McClelland said.
D-49 offers experience with charter and online schools, she said. The organization of the district and work on blending online and in-class school work, and flexibility, makes the district uniquely suited to help GOAL, she said.
The GOAL application went through an extensive review in D-49. A contract will be worked out only after the board approves a transfer.
As for Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch, there has been no formal transfer request, she said, although officials have talked about it.
Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch opened in 2008, and has about 800 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“Imagine is part of the community,” McClelland said. “Unless something changes, I don’t foresee us releasing their charter to CSI.”
Another charter school using the same management company, Imagine Pioneer Academy lost a lengthy fight last year to open a charter school in District 49.
The Imagine Classical Academy applied for two charters in 2007. The District 49 school board approved both applications that fall. The economic downturn stalled work on the second campus. The charter school board and the district agreed at the time to resubmit the application in 2010. No problems were expected, but the district rejected the application.

Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

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