GYPSUM, Colorado - Stone Creek Charter School got the green light last week to expand to Gypsum.
The Gypsum Town Council voted 5-2 to approve the school's new Gypsum campus.
Stone Creek is Eagle County's only independent public charter school.
Stone Creek Headmaster and former Eagle County Schools Superintendent John Brendza said there is demand for a charter school in western Eagle County.
"I've been approached throughout many years by parents wanting a school of choice in the valley," he said. "We have some outstanding schools - the county school district has done an excellent job providing various programs, and there's been a great deal of success there. With that said, however, parents have also been very interested in other opportunities for their children when they feel their children's needs are not being met at a school."
Stone Creek's Gypsum branch will be at a site formerly owned by AmeriGas and currently occupied by IMPACT Ministries. That property and the adjacent one to the east - where the New America Charter High School is located - are both owned by Eagle Airport Commerce Center LLC, headed by Glenn Heelan.
Heelan's company will essentially loan funds to Stone Creek by providing the property and site improvements up front.
Heelan has helped other schools get on their feet in the past, including the New America School, which will soon be moving into a space in Eagle Valley High School.
The initial proposal restricted access to the school from U.S. Highway 6, forcing traffic to drive through the business parking lot of Heelan's other property to the east, off Red Table Drive.
In the final agreement, there will be no access from the Red Table property; access will be only from Highway 6. Stone Creek will have to hammer out that arrangement with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The Town Council agreed to give the school a year to see how enrollment (per-pupil funding) goes. By May 2013, Stone Creek officials are expected to come back to the council to hash out further site improvements and a timeline for them to be made.
Founded in Avon in 2006, Stone Creek Charter School covers kindergarten through eighth grade and is based on a Core Knowledge curriculum. The school has a capacity of about 200 students, with current enrollment at about 140. It is not governed by attendance boundaries.