Reviewers: D-11 charter applicants meet requirements

November 14, 2012
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Parents, teachers and community members spent about two hours during a public hearing Wednesday praising three charter schools seeking to open in Colorado Springs School District 11.

The D-11 school board also heard detailed administrative reports on each charter.

Global Village Academy and James Irwin Charter Academy were rated 3.5 on a standard state scale of 1 to 4. Mountain Song Community School was rated a 3.0.

John Griego, D-11 charter school liaison, said it’s normal for the scores to improve as applicants respond to questions. A score of 3 is a strong application that meets requirements of a state charter school rubric.

The District Accountability Committee also reviewed the applications and recommended approval of all three charter schools as long as a few questions were addressed.

However, the DAC also urged the board to deny the applications and future charter school applications because of the negative impact on the district. The committee acknowledged that there was no sufficient reason to deny any of this year’s applications.

Charter school enrollment is increasing across the country. According to the seventh annual report from the Alliance for Public Charter Schools student, the 2011-2012 school year marked the first time that more than 100 school districts enrolled at least 10 percent of public school students in charter schools.

The report was released Wednesday, and included some details about Colorado, where more than 83,478 students are enrolled in charter schools.

There are 11 school districts in the state with at least 10 percent of the overall student population enrolled in public charter schools, including three in the Pikes Peak region: Harrison School District 2, Academy School District 20 and Falcon School District 49.

Almost 8 percent of roughly 29,000 D-11 students are enrolled in seven schools chartered by the district. In recent years, D-11 charter enrollment has shown small but stead gains. There are 15 charter schools within D-11 boundaries, some authorized by the state.

That growth fuels DAC concerns. The committee said charter schools have a detrimental effect on enrollment and funding for district schools.

“There are already a significant number of charter schools in the District and we believe that state regulation related to charter schools has many flaws,” the committee said.

New charter schools could cost D-11 millions of dollars in funding based on enrollment plans in the applications and district studies. Charter schools receive the full per pupil funding, while the district is hit with decreases in enrollment.

The charter school applicants have almost two weeks two address any additional questions.

The D-11 board is expected to vote on the charters at a special meeting Nov. 27.

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