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Charter Waits to Hear Future

By Shelley Widhalm, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
Board to re-examine Loveland Classical Schools’ application

The founders of Loveland Classical Schools have a principal hired, but they won’t be announcing who will lead the K-12 charter school until they get the go-ahead from Thompson School District.

Tonight, the district Board of Education will discuss and potentially vote on the application remand the founders resubmitted to district staff on February 22.

With the approval, the founders plan to open the school this fall, starting with 545 students in grades K-11 and adding grade 12 the following year. The school is proposed to follow a Core Knowledge curriculum in grades K-8 and a classical education in grades 9-12.

“We have addressed all of the issues the district staff and board members (raised) to the extent that is required,” said Trisha Coberly, one of the four co-founders.

The founders compiled a 250-page response document, which district staff reviewed and submitted to the board on Monday.

The Colorado State Board of Education recommended the founders make changes to their original 1,000-page application during an appeal hearing February 9. The state board remanded their application back to the Thompson school board.

The founders’ response document addresses the state’s and board’s concerns, including:

  • Developing a curriculum and instructional model that prepares secondary students to meet or exceed the state’s academic standards.”

    “We aligned all of our curriculum to the state standards and showed how that works,” Coberly said, adding that the response includes 207 pages of course syllabi.

  • Meeting the needs of at-risk students.

    The founders proposed a student services team, including special education teachers and occupational and speech therapists, to provide students with additional assistance, and a contract with a Colorado food company for a hot meal program will be compliant with the Free and Reduced Lunch regulations.

  • Addressing 23 budget concerns identified in the financial plan for the school, including accommodating for proposed state budget cuts with less funding coming to public schools. Steve Towne, chief financial officer for the district, said in a staff report that the financial plan “now appears to be sufficiently broad, detailed and inclusive of the necessary elements to be considered a credible and financially sound plan.”

    “They cleaned up a lot of the items that we felt like were missing in the first version of the budget,” Towne said in a separate interview.

  • Identifying a management and administrative team for the school.

    The founders plan to hire 27 to 40 staff members and provided descriptions for each position.

“They certainly made an earnest effort to respond to the state’s and board’s concerns,” said Ron Cabrera, superintendent of schools, adding that some areas of the application still require additional discussion. “They’ve done a good job in the main in meet the minimum requirements in most of the items.”

The board, which has until March 11 to take action on the remand, will have the option to send the application back to staff or to vote on it at the meeting. If the board votes on it, the members can deny the application, approve it, or approve it with conditions.