Indian Peaks Charter School enrollment figures lower than anticipated
Grand County’s Indian Peaks Charter School kicked off the new school year last week and while classes are progressing apace concerns over enrollment figures have school administrators nervously eyeing the start of October.
Indian Peaks Charter School is a Granby based charter school serving kindergarten through eighth grade while focusing on a curriculum centered around project based learning and expeditionary learning. The small school was previously a part of the East Grand School District but in 2016 Indian Peaks left the East Grand fold to join Colorado’s Charter School Institute.
When school officially started for Indian Peaks on Sept. 4 a total of 17 students were enrolled for classes. Enrollment is a key component for the school’s annual budget, which receives a significant portion of its yearly operating funds through the state’s per-pupil funding formula wherein a school receives a certain amount of funding for each student enrolled. Unlike many other charter schools Indian Peaks does not charge students or their families a fee to attend.
According to Michelle Kennard, Director of Indian Peaks, the school developed a planned budget for the coming school year based on an anticipated enrollment of 30 students. That figure is seven students more than the 22 students that were enrolled in Indian Peaks at the end of last school year. To maintain the current staffing levels Indian Peaks already has the school will need to enroll an additional thirteen students before they submit official enrollment figures to the state in early October.
Kennard acknowledged the concerns about enrollment and said the school is hoping to tout its project based and expeditionary learning programs in hopes of enticing other students to become part of the Indian Peaks student body.
“We are hoping to enroll more students,” Kennard said. “Otherwise we will have to look carefully at the budget and adjust. We have already started to adjust.”
If Indian Peaks cannot meet the enrollment figures that were anticipated in this year’s school budget then cuts will have to be made. Kennard said the school would likely start with reducing staff hours.
“If we start making cuts we will make cuts the furthest from the students that we possibly can,” she said. “It starts with administration and works down.”
Kennard said one particular area that would not see cuts, even if enrollment figures do not increase, is the school’s expeditionary learning program. The Indian Peaks expeditionary learning program takes students and teachers outside the classroom for a variety of learning opportunities in outdoor locations studying subjects like winter survival, backcountry travel and watersheds.
“We are totally dedicated to the expeditionary learning program,” she said. “That will not be cut. We will be exploring opportunities to bring grant money in to supplement the program. It is not going anywhere. We can make it work.”
This school year marks Kennard’s first with Indian Peaks. She was officially named Director at the end of last school year and comes to Granby after an extensive career in charter and alternative schools in Colorado, Florida and California. Kennard is renewing Indian Peak’s focus on expeditionary learning and is coupling the program with a new “project based learning” curriculum.
Students from Indian Peaks will spend the next several weeks developing products that they will eventually sell to the public as part of their project based learning work on the subject of entrepreneurship. The students will host a product sale in Kaibab Park in October to showcase their ideas.
“We have such a good program this year,” Kennard said. “We just need more students to teach.”
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