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School, City Close to Deal

By Shelley Widhalm, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
Council meeting tonight could settle charter issue

Lawyers for the city and Loveland Classical Schools have cobbled together an agreement that charter school organizers hope will allow them to clear their last hurdle.

City councilors, who had flip-flopped while addressing traffic and safety issues in two prior meetings, tonight will consider a measure that will cap enrollment at the school and set conditions for further expansion.

Dozens of parents, who hope to have their children among the inaugural enrollment at Loveland Classical this fall, have ridden the waves with the shifting council votes.

Frustration welled up at a June 7 meeting when their hopes appeared dashed.

But confident that a solution is at hand, school backers last week broke ground on their project that will expand an existing church near the western end of Southwest 14th Street, converting it for use as their new school’s home.

“I think it does a great job of addressing the concerns that were raised in the last meeting,” said Jones, president of Education Facility Solutions LLC.

“It shows an effort on the part of Loveland Classical Schools to be a good neighbor, to work with the city staff, and deal with these issues.”

School organizers and city officials have agreed that enrollment at Loveland Classical will be capped at 620, and that any proposed expansion would have to pass muster with city traffic engineers.

Council members on June 7 wrestled with the traffic issues to the extent that they retreated from an earlier 8-1 vote to approve the annexation amendment, and nearly killed the project with a 5-4 vote against it.

But at the same meeting where they spent nearly two hours on the issue, councilors directed City Attorney John Duval to work with school organizers on a revised agreement that would satisfy their concerns.

The issues involve traffic on the narrow, two-lane stretch of 14th Street SW, and a center median that would be altered to allow turning traffic into the new school.

The charter school founders hope to have 600 students enrolled for the school’s planned opening on September 7.

Councilors asked for the enrollment ceiling and a provision that would require city review of any planned expansion onto land to the north of the school that school organizers intend to buy.

A side issue, the city’s potential liability for removing landscape from the median that had been placed by a local homeowners association, is also addressed in the new agreement.

Trisha Coberly, a Loveland Classical founder and vice president of the school’s board, said the school would require parents to attend one of two meetings at the school to learn how to manage traffic flow in and out of the school.

“I think we’ve addressed all their issues and we’re moving forward proactively,” she said.