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New District 20 charter school wins approval if it hits enrollment goal in March

February 3, 2017 Updated: February 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm
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photo - An enrollment meeting for New Summit Charter Academy will be held at 1 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the building the group is leasing at 7899 Lexington Drive. Image via Google Maps.
An enrollment meeting for New Summit Charter Academy will be held at 1 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the building the group is leasing at 7899 Lexington Drive. Image via Google Maps. 

Persistence has paid off for organizers of a proposed charter school in Academy School District 20.

The district's board unanimously approved a conditional contract Thursday night, which enables New Summit Charter Academy to open in the fall with kindergarten through third grade classes.

"Like most negotiations, we did not get everything we wanted, but we believe this is the best we could do on behalf of the parents and children of New Summit and D-20," said Rick Van Wieren, a local real estate agent and one of the organizers.

D-20 board members had rejected an initial proposal at a December meeting on a 4-1 vote, citing concerns about financing and enrollment projections. The Colorado Department of Education also denied a grant application for funding. The school had planned to open in August with grades K-6. At its Jan. 19 meeting, the D-20 board agreed to a facilitation to try to come to an agreement, instead of organizers going through an appeal process.

"We are grateful for the willingness from both parties, Academy District 20 and New Summit Charter, to reach this conditional approval status," said Tracey Johnson, vice president of D-20's board.

For the approval to stand, the school is required to enroll 340 students by 4 p.m. March 17.

An enrollment meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the building the group is leasing at 7899 Lexington Drive.

D-20's only other charter school system, The Classical Academy, started 20 years ago and fills open seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

"If New Summit Charter generates sufficient support for a new elementary school, we welcome them into our family of choices," said Jim Smith, D-20's assistant superintendent for administrative services.

New Summit currently has 210 kindergarten through third-grade students interested in attending, Van Wieren said.

The school also is required to "make good faith efforts" to admit students with disabilities, English language learners and students from low-income families.

Under the conditional contract, New Summit would be allowed to add fourth and fifth grades in 2018 and others in following years.

Van Wieren said he's disappointed the school will not be able to immediately accommodate the older students who had expressed interest.

However, "This agreement will enable us to provide a quality program that will already be up and running when they start," he said.

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