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Local charter school predominately white

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – While “schools of choice” proliferate in Colorado and the nation, getting kids to those schools is a problem.The Eagle County Charter Academy in Edwards is overwhelmingly white, but members of the school’s board say they’re trying to get more minority kids enrolled.”Patty Anderson, our former principal, actively recruited kids, but that turned out to be illegal,” said Cricket Pylman, a former board member.Now, prospective students’ names are drawn in a lottery. The odds of getting a spot at the school aren’t as long as say, winning the PowerBall, but it’s not easy, either. Several hundred families apply every year to fill the 100 or so spots open in kindergarten and first grade and the very few spots that open up in second through eighth grade.”We welcome applications from anyone,” Pylman said. Parents, teachers and administrators still go to elementary schools and various community meetings to provide information about the charter school, said board member Tony O’Rourke.The bottom line, though, is getting kids to school. While charter schools are public, there’s no bus service to the one in Edwards. Most charter schools around the country are in the same situation.”Charter schools don’t have the resources to provide transportation,” O’Rourke said. “That limits you to kids who can get a ride.”A lot of parents of minority kids don’t have the ability, or the time, to get their kids to school, O’Rourke said.What isn’t a problem is paying for school. Charter schools are public, and the local charter school started a hot lunch program last year, so kids whose families qualify for the district’s free or reduced-priced lunch program can attend. Kids whose parents can’t afford to pay for field trips and other activities can get scholarships, Pylman said.”There aren’t any monetary issues for kids who want to attend,” she said.The overwhelmingly white student population prompted one group of residents to push to have Edwards school’s charter revoked a few years ago, Pylman said. Charter school parents and Superintendent John Brendza fought the effort, and the school stayed open.But issues of race don’t apply just to predominantly white schools.”The Edison (charter) schools in Denver are predominantly black,” O’Rourke said. “I’m sure there are a lot of white parents who’d like to get their kids into their schools and can’t do it.”=============By the numbers:289: Total student population at the Eagle County Charter Academy14: Minority students enrolled=================Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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