Letter: Fraser charter school proposal, continued
October 20, 2015
Fraser charter school proposal, continued
To the Editor:
After I submitted my letter about the proposed middle and high school charter school in Fraser, I got a lot of people contacting me, telling me they agreed it was a bad idea. The majority of them were from the Fraser side of the county, I'd say almost 2-1.
So, if I made my first letter sound like all, or most people from that end of the county were in favor of this idea, I stand corrected and I apologize. From what I had heard from the East Grand School Board meeting, Clark Lipscomb made it sound like there were as many as 120 families who were in favor of this school. If that's true, I haven't heard a peep from any of them.
For general information purposes, the main reasons for adding charter schools into districts would be to offer more rigorous academics, or to offer niche courses or activities that aren't offered at local public schools. Also, Colorado law states that in districts of less than 3,000 students, the local school board (instead of the state charter school board) would have authorization powers. The reason is that in small districts, the financial impact would be so severe to the existing pubic schools that a local school board should make that decision.
East Grand Middle School and Middle Park High School are not under-serving the students of East Grand County. In fact, for rural schools of their size, they offer a surprising amount of classes, sports, and extracurricular activities.
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For example, the middle school offers foreign language, band, choir, computer, art, P.E., and journalism classes. They have GT services for advanced students, and tutoring and Title I support for struggling students. They offer nine sports, drama club, art club, an 8th grade trip to Washingto D.C., and have school dances and assemblies.
Middle Park High School has a wide variety of course offerings, especially for a 2A high school, including several AP courses for which students can earn college credit. They offer foreign language, business, catering, band, choir, P.E., art, computer graphics, wood shop, metal shop, and many others. They have at least 12 sports, drama club, foreign language trips, as well as school dances and assemblies.
Also, both schools regularly score at or above state averages on nearly every standardized test year after year. This information is available to the public. Middle Park High School has more students graduate than the state average, year after year. The majority of our graduates go on to some post-graduate education or job training. In short, our public schools are working for our students and our community.
So, what would be the pressing need or justification for a grade 6-12 charter school in a small district, with high academic achievement and graduation rates? Is it just to add a charter school into a real estate developer's master plan? Isn't that same real estate developer already taking heat from Fraser residents for trying to get cheap tap fees for some of his other proposals? How much do Grand County taxpayers need to subsidize this private business owner, and how much harm will it do to our local public schools in the process?