Columnist: Charter Academy deserves support |

Columnist: Charter Academy deserves support

Mike Farrell
Vail CO, Colorado

The Eagle County Charter Academy is a bargain for Eagle County.

Hey Mike Matzko, if you want to know something about the safety issues at the charter school, why don’t you get off your opinionated rear end and come see for yourself? If you want to know something about the character of Eagle County Charter Academy supporters, why don’t you do some investigation on your own? You wish to question the character of charter school supporters. But how ethical can you be having formed an opinion without any first-hand information? But of course you are sly enough to not actually state an opinion on the safety issue, just question the character of others.

I’ll say this. It is Principal Jay Cerny’s job to worry about our children. He does his best to keep all Charter Academy students (including his own kids) as safe as what our facilities allow. But that does not mean he cannot ask for a safer building. Sorry, but your argument is foolish. When you construct an entire letter around the idea that one cannot ask for better because you are making do with what you now have, you certainly come across as a shallow thinker.

To accuse Mr. Cerny and others of either lying about the safety issue or endangering the lives of our children is reprehensible.

The Charter Academy just held its annual “Ghostly Gala” fundraiser last Friday night. We had an information center set up for those who had questions about the new building. I worked the center and do not recall you having dropped by. You really should have taken the opportunity for some firsthand learning.

I spent some time answering questions about the building and about campus safety. Some questions came from charter school parents. But most came from people outside the Charter Academy’s student body, parents, and staff. I even had questions from parents who had children at the charter school, but who eventually left deciding that the traditional school model was a better choice for them. You know what Mr. Matzko, these people were still there supporting the Charter Academy just as they support all Eagle County schools.

This is the only way that we will solve our daunting and complex problems. By everyone working together, with traditional schools like June Creek, alternative schools like Red Canyon, and charter schools like the Eagle County Charter Academy, we can best serve all of our children.

I have some facts for you Mr. Matzko. The Charter Academy is a bargain for Eagle County. We educate 288 kids at the school. We have raised and spent millions of dollars to build facilities for our students. Those are millions of dollars that the county did not have to spend. Ask yourself, what would happen if charter school did not exist? The school district would have to build and maintain yet another facility at an initial cost of tens of millions and incur an additional on-going cost for maintenance.

Eagle County Charter Academy parents are an integral part of our school community. We worked hard to pass the bond issue. In fact, we voted 90 percent in favor. That figure is higher than the community as a whole. We do volunteer work for the district, not just our own school. We support and attend Wild West Days as well as many other district fundraising activities. We have tried our best, but we cannot raise enough funds to build and maintain our existing facilities as well as construct this common building. We cannot do this on our own and are asking the community for help.

You ended your column with “… ask us how we, as parents, participated in this process.” I’ll tell you how we participated. We saw a problem affecting our children. We analyzed that problem and decided that the Eagle County Charter Academy was an asset to our community, was a bargain for our hard-earned dollar, and was a longterm solution for our financially stressed school system. We decided to embrace diversity in our school system, to put aside our personal biases and work together to solve our problems.

As for me, I know how I will feel about my participation in the school system. When my children (aged 7, 3, and 1) are old enough, I will be proud to explain to them that I supported all Eagle County school kids.

On the other hand, you, Mr. Matzko, should be ashamed of your laziness. Why don’t you come out to the school and see for yourself? Why don’t you spend a day with Mr. Cerny and the rest of the staff and see the issue firsthand? I’ll give you or any other interested party a personal tour. Come attend an assembly and see what we are talking about. I have an idea, come on out and challenge a group of our eighth-graders to a side-by-side written debate. That would be interesting and informative for all involved.

If you refuse, you (and Vail Daily readers) should be appalled at your glib willingness to discount (just some of) our children.

Mike Farrell is a Sweetwater resident and an Eagle County Charter Academy parent volunteer. E-mail comments about this column to

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