Blossom Valley School proponents are disappointed, but not surprised, that the Delta County School Board denied their charter application last week. The vote was 4-1, with board member Kathy Svenson casting the dissenting vote.
Proponents have until Jan. 7 to appeal the school board's decision. If the school board denies the application a second time, Blossom Valley can appeal to the state.
"Charters are never a popular choice for school districts, but we are heartened by how seriously they considered our application and feel they did a very thorough job making this decision," said Cassandra Shenk, the Blossom Valley initiative coordinator.
"But we're not going to give up," she added. "I feel strongly about the Waldorf method."
The charter application was not only reviewed by the school board, it was also vetted by district administration, district accountability, and community members at a public hearing held in Paonia.
Denial came in the form of a highly detailed resolution that contained seven major points:
• Conversion of private school and nonpublic home-based educational program to a charter school;
• Insufficient level of support;
• Budget not economically sound;
• Curriculum not aligned;
• No assurance of highly qualified teachers;
• No adequate facility;
• Adverse effect on choice options in North Fork Valley.
The board pointed out two other schools of choice options already exist in the North Fork Valley, in addition to Paonia Elementary and Hotchkiss K-8 — Vision Charter Academy and the North Fork Montessori School, which was recently relocated to Crawford.
"The board desires all four programs to remain financially viable, despite the loss of jobs and families due to the local economy," the resolution states. "An additional program would further dilute the enrollment support for these other four options and risk their viability. This is especially the case with the charter and innovation schools in the initial years of their existence. At this stage in those schools' development and given the current economic climate, the board believes that diluting the population into small schools of choice will likely result in narrowing the field of choices currently available."
The school board's decision was made during a special meeting Dec. 18 that was well attended by charter proponents. In the resolution, board members said they did not believe families would move to Paonia just because of the Waldorf model. A family from Durango disagreed, saying that's exactly why they had moved to Paonia. Proponents argue families moving into the area in search of a Waldorf school will give public school enrollment a boost — not the other way around.
"I personally feel a small, nurturing environment is really the only option for some children," Shenk said. "This model works for a diverse student body and will fit perfectly in this valley. I see a gap and that's one big reason we're going to keep moving forward."
Blossom Valley can continue to operate as a homeschool cooperative, but many families said they cannot afford to continue paying tuition. That's one reason they would like to become a public school.blog comments powered by Disqus