Dinosaur charter school application deadline set

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A committee in Dinosaur has one month to submit an application if it wants a charter school in its community next year.

The Moffat County Board of Education set a May 28 application deadline at a meeting this week.

The board will then consider the application at its June 2 meeting.

Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakley and Dinosaur resident Bob Puck, who have formed a committee to pursue a charter in Dinosaur, came before the board this week.

The committee has been investigating the possibility of creating a charter school since rumblings began in February that the school in Dinosaur might be closed.

At an April 7 meeting, school board members voted to close the school, 5-1. Board member John Wellman was the only board member who did not vote in favor of the motion.

Board members made the decision to close the school based on data that showed declining enrollment numbers and the fact that many parents in the community were already choosing to send their children to Rangely. All Dinosaur students eventual end up going to the school in Rangely after the sixth grade.

Normally, an application for a charter school must be submitted to a local school district by Oct. 1 the year before the school is proposed to be opened.

But a representative from the Colorado League of Charter Schools has said that deadline can be waved in certain situations.

The fact that those wanting a charter school in Dinosaur did not know about it the closure of the elementary school until last

month makes it one of those situations.

"The situation in Dinosaur epitomizes what the charter is about as it was written into law in Colorado," Jim Griffin, executive director of the League of Charter Schools in Colorado, has said. "You have a situation where the school board, and likely a majority of the population, probably do not support having a school in Dinosaur. But that doesn't mean there's no value in having a school there."

If the committee meets the deadline and submits the application for consideration at next month's meeting, the school district then reviews the

application and conducts a public hearing. It then takes a vote on

the application.

If the board were to deny the application, the decision can be appealed to the state board of education.

If the state board approves the appeal, it goes back to the local school board. If the local school board denies the application a second time, it goes back to the state for a final decision.

If a charter school is formed, 95 percent of the per-pupil funding is provided by the local school district, which receives per-pupil funding from the state.

But the local community that formed the charter would be in charge of their writing its own bylaws and hiring staff.

"There's no reason for this board to stand in your way as long as you can come up with a workable solution," Moffat County School Board President Phil Hastings told Blakley and Puck at a Monday meeting.

School Superintendent Pete Bergmann said it was not only to the school district's benefit that the application be turned in as soon as possible but also for those in Dinosaur wanting a charter "school.

"It's tight, but we can do it," Puck told the board of the deadline.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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