School sneaks up on some |

School sneaks up on some

Nicole Frey
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyAnna Tedstrom, 11, shows off a magnetic locker decoration to her friends Thursday on the first day of school at the Eagle County Charter Academy in Edwards.

EDWARDS ” Starting classes a week before other public schools in Eagle County caught some parents off guard Thursday.

“I think about three parents forgot,” said Eagle County Charter Academy Principal Jay Cerny. “They were all parents who have kids in other district schools.”

A phone call to parents quickly remedied the problem, and the charter school teachers and students got to the business of starting the school year ” some more enthusiastically than others.

A phone call to parents quickly remedied the problem, and the charter school teachers and students got to the business of starting the school year ” some more enthusiastically than others.

“I’m still half asleep,” sixth-grader Jimmy O’Rourke said at 12:30 p.m. chowing down lunch in the cafeteria. O’Rourke’s buddies agreed waking up early was a bit of a travesty.

“It was so not cool waking up this morning,” Sean Armithee said.

On top of rising early, starting school a week early was cruelly adding insult to injury, students said.

“It’s not fair,” said sixth-grader Annie Wick.

The charter’s school requires 180 days of school ” more than traditional public schools ” so students, teachers and faculty start a week early and continue for another week after other schools adjourn for summer holidays.

“More time means more opportunities,” Cerny said.

Teachers aren’t buying students’ good-natured grumbling.

“They’re more excited than they let on,” said Jean Bartlette, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade social studies.

And after some prodding, students fessed up.

“It’s fun seeing all the teachers and your friends again,” O’Rourke said.

Fifth and sixth graders said they’re looking forward to this year’s science fair ” a biannual event ” and sixth graders are already counting down the days to their trip to Denver at the end of the school year.

The weather may still be solidly summertime but sixth-grader Cody Brown is already looking forward to skiing, though he has some scholastic goals as well.

“I want to try to be a better person than last year,” he said. “Last year I just sat there, but this year I’m going to participate more.”

Students didn’t have too much on their plates Thursday. Fifth and sixth graders spent most of the day organizing lockers and binders, talking about future projects and playing outside. The real academic work will start Monday.

“I’m so glad we don’t have homework today,” said Brittany Anderson, a sixth-grader.

In many ways, it’s back to business as usual for the charter school who welcomed back 288 kids on the Edwards campus it has occupied for the last seven years. The school itself has been around for 13 years and has the second oldest charter in the state.

Cerny’s goals for the school are steadfast too ” maintain or improve scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program and increase parent involvement.

But a looming school bond is shaking the ground of the charter school’s typically isolated island. As the Eagle County School District prepares to ask voters for $128 million, the charter school wants a $3 million piece of the pie. To get it, the school may have to move to Battle Mountain High School once that building is vacated.

An agreement between the school district and the charter school has yet to be ironed out, as charter school teachers, parents and faculty weigh the pros and cons of moving.

“This is a wonderful location ” it’s beautiful,” Bartlette said. “But at Battle Mountain, we’d have a bigger cafeteria, larger classrooms, a gym, an auditorium, just more possibilities.”

While the issues weigh heavily on the minds of the grownups at the charter academy, students were blissfully ignorant and paying more attention to locker magnets than if the school moves seven miles east.

“I’m looking forward to starting to get back to the business of being a principal” instead of having to sort the minutia of a ballot question, Cerny said.

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or

Vail, Colorado

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