Charter school calls Avon home | VailDaily.com
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Charter school calls Avon home

Nicole Frey

AVON – Although the Avon Town Council hearing was supposed to be about granting Stone Creek Elementary School a temporary site on a piece of land just east of The Home Deport, the public quickly turned discussions to diversity issues.

While Stone Creek’s board of directors and administration have pledged to make the charter school as diverse as possible, Eagle County School’s spokeswoman Melinda Gladitsch said the school actually has no obligation to include minority students.

“If it’s 100 percent white, that’s OK,” she said.

So despite all the charter school’s good intentions, Stone Creek may end up like the county’s other charter school, which has had several programs in place to attract the valley’s Hispanic population over the last 12 years. However, only 4 percent of the Eagle County Charter Academy’s student population is Hispanic.

Brian Nolan, the president of the Eagle County Charter Academy’s board of directors, said all of Stone Creek’s efforts to gain diversity may be futile.

“Without a food program, we will not attract a single Hispanic, without transportation to the charter school, you will not get the Hispanic community to come out,” Nolan said. “For eight years, we tried to hold spots for Hispanic kids, but nobody came … It’s an embarrassment that I lead a group of people that can’t get a chore done.”

School officials and parents also told the town council that, because charter school is likely to be largely white, it will further throw off the balance of Hispanic and Anglo kids in public schools, particularly in Avon Elementary School, which already has a student population that’s about 80 percent Hispanic.

“It will be a huge challenge (for Avon Elementary) to be 100 percent Hispanic students,” schools Superintendent John Brendza said.

After more than an hour of comments, Mayor Ron Wolfe reminded the audience the school’s charter was already granted ” there’s going to be a new charter school, the only question remaining is where it’ll be.

Marcy Donovan, who has children in Avon Elementary, said she just doesn’t want the school in Avon.

“Avon (Elementary) is your town school. We need your support,” Donovan said. “We’re moving in a good place. Send Stone Creek farther away and give Avon room to grow.

“Avon (Elementary) has a publicity issue, a public image issue, but I’m very excited for the new things happening at Avon Elementary,” she said, listing the new dual-language program and partnership with the Gore Range Natural Science School.

Lynnette Miscio, who sits on Stone Creek’s board of directors, said approving the site would encourage charter school parents to spend money in Avon, be it on grocery stores or restaurants. Nolan disagreed.

“You’re going to get in your car and haul buns home,” he said. “It’s not like you’re going to have a glass of wine before you pick up the kids.”

While parents and administrators were resolute in their opinions, most council members said they were uncertain of how to vote.

“Is this going to benefit the citizens of Avon?” said Councilwoman Amy Phillips. “I am really torn … I don’t know which end of the crystal ball is correct. If it doesn’t work, then we haven’t given a public benefit ” and we need to have public benefit to the citizens.”

Councilwomen Debbie Buckley and Tamra Nottingham Underwood firmly said they would not support the school’s land request, but wished Stone Creek well.

However, with the rest of the council and the mayor open to making a deal, everyone behind the dais joined in trying to hammer out the details, including increasing the price and limiting the lease to one year.

Only Buckley and Nottingham Underwood voted against the school. Councilwoman Kristi Ferraro was absent.

“Our obligation is to the kids,” Councilman Brian Sipes said. “I don’t know if the charter school is going to make things better or worse.”

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or nfrey@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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