While the three Vision Home & Community Program schools in Delta County are pursuing charter status, the school district is seeking waivers from the Colorado Department of Education which will allow the Delta Academy for Applied Learning (DAAL) and the North Fork Montessori School to continue as contract schools. Both schools have highly qualified staff which makes the CDE more willing to grant waivers for the schools' operation.
In the Vision schools, mentors and parents are part of the instructional team, and they're not always considered "highly qualified," which brings state funding into question.
The Delta Academy of Applied Learning (DAAL) is an alternative middle school located upstairs in the Delta Center for the Performing Arts. The school has 26 students in sixth to eighth grades. Al Williams is the director; Kim Egging, Cynthia Kuta and Kimber Arsenault make up the instructional staff.
Bill Eyler has been the head of the North Fork Montessori School since it was founded 13 years ago. His wife Jenny is the head teacher and early childhood director. Monica Zarley, Cami Bear and Anjula Jalan teach the young students with the help of two assistants, Sheilla Torkelson and Sheryl Ross. Shelly Gray is the special education instructor.
The North Fork Montessori School (NFMS) is located in Hotchkiss and has 79 students in preschool through sixth grades. There's a waiting list of over 100.
Eyler said the waivers will allow the school to follow the Montessori curriculum, rather than the curriculum that is being used across the district. The waivers also give the school autonomy. It has its own board which makes decisions solely for NFMS.
This year the school has been the recipient of two prestigious awards, both the result of high standardized test scores. The Colorado Department of Education presented NFMS with the John Irwin Award for Academic Excellence for three years of high academic performance. This award goes to the top 10 percent of schools in Colorado; NFMS ranks in the top 5 percent.
NFMS also received the Governor's Distinguished Improvement Award for academic improvement.
Because of those two awards, Colorado School Grades gave the school an A. The grade is based on student academic growth, as well as overall school performance.
The awards caught the attention of Senator Gail Schwartz, who recently presented a commendation to NFMS.
Eyler said even if the waivers are granted by CDE, the board may elect to pursue charter status because of financial considerations. "We would prefer to remain a contract school," he added, "and we believe we've done a good job honoring the district standards using our Montessori method."blog comments powered by Disqus