Editorial: School board right to delay funds | VailDaily.com

Editorial: School board right to delay funds

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

The Eagle County School Board made its best decision yet Monday night by putting off any ruling on the controversial Eagle County Charter Academy funding request.

It will be up to the next board to decide if giving the charter school $2.5 million for a new community building is the best use of taxpayer dollars. Board President Scott Green said the issue won’t come up again until March 2008.

That’s a wise choice. While it’s clear that the charter school needs a facility that can hold all its students, the school district has plenty of other needs to consider right now ” the district’s myriad of ongoing, bond-approved construction projects that could and likely will rise in cost is just one of them.

The district and the charter school need to do more investigation into other, more cost-effective solutions to the school’s cramped conditions. The Charter Academy says moving into the old Battle Mountain High School building isn’t an option, because of the cost of utilities. Sure the school is too big now, but it could be retrofitted to accommodate a smaller school.

That’s just one idea, and it’s probably not the best. But that’s the point ” has anyone tried to come up with any other solutions?

In this case, a little more time could do the charter school and the district a lot of good. The district should use this time to get a better handle on the construction costs for June Creek Elementary, Red Canyon High and Battle Mountain High. In particular, the district should look for room in the budget to give the new Battle Mountain High School the athletic fields most voters were expecting when the the district bond passed last fall.

The district also should look for a better way to meet the Charter Academy’s needs without aggravating the parents whose children attend the district’s traditional schools. This is political, yes. But the district did the Charter Academy no favors by approving its $2.5 million request on Sept. 26, and then reversing that decision at the next meeting, when you consider the circumstances surrounding those votes. First, there’s the legal question about whether the school district properly notified the public that they were scheduled to vote on the funding request. Second, the vote came amid fervor from many Battle Mountain parents and coaches who were upset to learn that the new high school would not be able to accommodate football and soccer games when it opens.

And lastly, the district’s vote inadvertently stoked growing tension between a charter school that is viewed by many as elitist and the rest of the district’s parents, who find it all too easy to pick on the small charter school with good test scores and long waiting list.

It would behoove all involved ” the district, the charter school and the other schools ” to figure out a way to work together a little better. The charter school IS a part of the district, after all. That means the Charter Academy has a right to district funds, and has the responsibility to compromise, just like other schools do, to get what it needs.

” Tamara Miller for the Editorial Board

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