After 12 years, the Vision Home & Community Program is changing direction. The program, which has operated as a contract school under Delta County Joint School District #50, is now taking the first steps toward attaining charter status.
The change is largely administrative, and should not impact students' ability to develop individualized learning plans based on their own unique interests, the hallmark of the Vision program. Since it was established, enrollment has grown from 65 to over 600.
Kimborlee Etter, chairman of the Vision Board of Stewards, was homeschooling her children when the program was first introduced. She quickly recognized the value of an alternative educational program which would provide some oversight to help keep her and her three kids on track. She also liked the fact the curriculum she'd chosen could be funded with tax dollars.
In the intervening years, she's not only seen her own kids succeed, she's seen many other students graduate and become citizens "we can be proud of." For that reason, she stayed involved with the Vision program after her three children graduated.
She was one of several Vision representatives who recently met with the Delta County Board of Education to determine the program's future. That future is being dictated, in part, by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), which has clarified its stance on Vision's instructors. If Vision remains a contract school, all teachers will have to be highly qualified. The way Vision is currently set up, instruction is provided by a combination of licensed teachers, independent contractors, mentors and parents. If that instructional model doesn't change to one where all teachers are highly qualified, the school district, and Vision, run the risk of losing some state funding, school board member Tammy Smith explained.
But if the school switches to a charter, things can basically stay the way they are, she said.
Etter said the board of stewards is now completing a short application to be submitted to the school board — the sole chartering authority in Delta County — in March. Between March and June, a steering committee will determine how the Delta, Surface Creek and North Fork Vision programs can be merged into a single charter school with three campuses. By June, Etter hopes a contract with Delta County Joint School District #50 can be ratified and the charter school will be ready to go for the Vision school year which runs from July to June.
The board of stewards intends to provide an opportunity for parents and community members to participate in the process, Etter added. School district attorney Aaron Clay has also referred to public hearings during the process.
Because school board members have already approved the switch to a charter school, Etter expects the contract negotiations to proceed smoothly. Contract negotiations will address funding, the use of school district resources and facilities, and other charter criteria.
"Some internal changes will have to take place, but we hope to keep the 'flavor' of the Vision schools the same," she said.
"We believe this is the best option for the school district and for the Vision program," Smith said. "Not every kid fits into our traditional schools. Having this alternative works really well for our district and the students it services."blog comments powered by Disqus