No decision yet on charter school
EAGLE – After months of discussion, the Eagle County Charter Academy is still looking for its place in the district. Whether it will receive funding, a new location or anything at all from a proposed tax increase is up to the board of education.The board is considering placing a bond on the November ballot to raise money to improve existing Eagle County School District facilities or build a new elementary or high school, superintendent John Brendza said. Brian Nolan, president of the Edwards charter school’s board of directors, said he is hopeful the bond will benefit the charter school either through funding or a facility.The Board of Education is discussing whether to include funds for the charter academy in the bond, a possibility granted by state law since the academy lies in a public school district. The board may instead offer the academy a facility that would be made available if a new school is built in the district. Details affecting the charter school would come second to the construction priorities of the bond, Brendza said.”It’s not even preliminary,” he said. “It’s purely in discussion phase.”Charter on bond?The board has been measuring community support for the bond for at least a year. In surveys conducted by investment banking firm George K. Baum, 64 percent of respondents supported the bond when it included a new high school, a new elementary school and technological advances to other facilities. But 44 percent said they would oppose the bond if it included charter school funding. “Leaving the issue off the ballot does not address the needs of the charter school,” school board Vice President Connie Kincaid-Strahan said. “They are our students. They deserve our resources.”If the charter school is included on the bond, the board may allocate a percentage of the funding to renovate the current campus in Edwards. Currently, modular buildings serve as classrooms for about 290 students. Building a gymnasium, auditorium and office building would cost about $7 million.A move may be in storeIf the board does not write the charter academy into the bond, it may still decide to offer the school a home if facilities are vacated as a result of the election. If the bond to build a new high school passes, Battle Mountain would be vacated. The charter school could move into the building, but only after significant renovations, Green said. It would cost from $5 to $7 million to prepare the high school building for elementary classes. The funding for that remodeling could appear on the bond, or the board could leave the charter school directors to fund the renovation.With its adequate size and preferential location, the current Battle Mountain building could be used by much of the community, Green said. The building could be shared for charter classes, early childhood programs, workout facilities, performances and other events.Another proposal offering Minturn Middle School to the academy, should be an option only if current Minturn students can be moved to a new building, school board member Keith Thompson said. Minturn Middle would not accommodate both schools, but Minturn students could move into the old Battle Mountain building if a new high school is built, he said. The board also discussed offering Avon Elementary to the charter academy. Most Avon students would move to the new Miller Ranch school, but several second-language students would stay at the old building to become part of the academy. This proposal, which had been favored by the board in earlier weeks, seems to be losing support, Green said.The next stepNothing is set in stone yet, but the board must certify its question for the ballot by Sept. 1. The amount of funding must be identified by this point, and voters will receive details as the campaign progresses.Board members will seek constituent feedback on the issue before the next meeting on Aug. 19, when the board is expected to reach a conclusion.”No decisions have been made at all,” Green said. “It depends what our constituents want and what will benefit the education of our children the most.”Brooke Bates can be reached at email@example.com.=====================Options on the table:• Do not offer any charter school funding through bond.• Allot a percentage of bond funds to charter school for new buildings on its campus. • Depending on building of a new high school or elementary school, offer the charter academy the use of an existing facility:- If a new high school is built, offer a portion of old Battle Mountain High School to the charter academy, plus additional funding for remodeling.- If Minturn Middle School moves into the old Battle Mountain High School building, offer old Minturn Middle School to the charter academy, plus minimal additional funding.- If Avon Elementary students move to new school in Miller Ranch, offer old Avon Elementary building to charter academy. Second-language Avon students would become part of charter school.=====================Vail, Colorado
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