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Charter School Supporters Speak Up

By Shelley Widhalm, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

If Loveland Classical Schools does not become a reality, Allison Flanscha of Loveland figures that home schooling will be her second-best choice.

“I believe that charter schools allow parents to make educational decisions that are in line with their family values,” Flanscha said.

Flanscha spoke Thursday evening during a 50-minute public forum on the proposed K-12 charter school, which would open in fall 2011 if it wins approval.

The Thompson School District hosted the forum at B.F. Kitchen Elementary School to collect testimony about the school, which would be the district’s second charter school.

Seventeen of the more than 60 people attending the forum spoke in favor of the school, while one person spoke against it.

Loveland Classical Schools aims to provide children with a classical education that follows a Core Knowledge curriculum, as stated in the executive summary about the school.

Classical education, which is not offered at any of the schools within the Thompson District, follows a pattern called the “trivium.” It employs three stages — grammar stage for grades one through four, logic state from fifth through eighth, and the rhetoric stage in high school.

Core Knowledge allows students to build on what they learn as they move through the curriculum.

Loveland resident Jennifer Thayer said she and her husband, Nicholas, research schools in the Loveland area and realized they wanted their children to receive the same education they had — one based on the classical approach and Core Knowledge.

“We want them to know where we cam from, how we got here and how, through their efforts, they can change the world,” Thayer said. “Character development, responsibility and respect, high test scores and required parental involvement are values that we strongly believe in.”

The parents who spoke in favor of the charter school espoused the traditional values of a classical education and the rigor of the curriculum. They said the school district needs to offer more choices.

Some of the parents said they already do or will choose to homeschool or send their children to charter schools outside the district if the charter school is not approved, they said.

Tamara Seyer of Loveland said her son, who attends a public school, was not challenged in reading and math until he was in the fourth grade.

“It doesn’t matter if (students are) gifted or average. They need to be pushed and have the opportunity to excel,” Seyer said.

Loveland resident and Thompson District teacher Laurie Shearer spoke against the charter school and in favor of the “well-rounded education” her three children received attending schools in the district.

They were exposed to cultural differences, participated in the Advanced Placement program and were involved in athletics, she said.

“Thompson School District did an excellent job with their education,” Shearer said.

Shearer mentioned some of the different options at the district’s schools, including International Baccalaureate and Core Knowledge. She was concerned, she said, that none of the parents who spoke mentioned special education.

The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the application at its October 20 meeting and take a vote Nov. 3.

“I’m doing everything I can to make sure this school fits our community,” said Loveland resident Tamara Cramer, one of the co-founders of the charter school. “It’s not anti-Thompson School District. It’s about making our community better.”