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Public Input on Charter School Sought

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By Shelley Widhalm, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
Residents explain why they want classical education choice

The founders of a charter school and Thompson School District officials want to find out if a second such school is what the community wants.

The school district is hosting a public forum Thursday for Loveland Classical Schools, a proposed K-12 charter school that, if approved, would open in fall 2011 with a capacity for more than 1,200 students.

“It’s going to be a forum for people to say what they think,” said Wes Fothergill, director of communication and community resources for the district.

“It will be really about taking information, giving people an opportunity to give their input on it and their thoughts, pro or con.”

The forum, a required step in the process of establishing a charter school, will last 90 minutes with speakers allowed up to two minutes to provide testimony regarding their comments or concerns. They can leave any written questions for the charter school or the district following the meeting.

“It’s an offering that would add to the school district,” said Loveland resident Trisha Coberly, co-founder of the school, who, along with the other founders, plans to be at the meeting.

The idea of the charter school is to provide children with a classical education that follows a Core Knowledge curriculum, Coberly said.

Classical education is based on the concept that everything in life consists of three things, that of rhetoric, logic and grammar. Core Knowledge allows students to build on what they know as they learn this material and move through the curriculum.

“A lot of our parents are very attracted by classical education,” Coberly said. “Our school district doesn’t offer that.”

So far, parents have applied for 812 students to fill 430 spots for the first year, when students K-11 will be accepted. The students who are not selected through a lottery system will be placed on a waiting list.

Three hundred of the students are Loveland or Berthoud residents who attend schools outside the district and, if enrolled, would bring back $2 million to the district, Coberly said.

“We do have a lot of support for the school itself. That gives it quite a compelling argument,” Coberly said.

The founders have identified three possible sites for the school, all within Loveland city limits, Coberly said. They cannot finalize on any of the sites until they receive the district’s approval, she said.

“We would like public input to know what people are thinking about another charter school in our community,” Fothergill said.

District staff will compile the input to present to the Board of Education, which is scheduled to discuss the application at the Oct. 20 meeting and take a vote Nov. 3.

If approved, the founders and district staff will be required to develop a contract about the school’s operation.

If the district denies the application, the founders have 30 days to appeal to the state.