Dinosaur school decision set for next week

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A committee in Dinosaur has presented its application and stated its case. Now it's time for a decision from the Moffat County Board of Education on whether there will be a charter school in Dinosaur this coming school year.

The board will make a decision at a 7 p.m. Monday meeting next week.

At a meeting last week, school board members discussed a 40-page application packet for 2 hours with committee members from Dinosaur working to get a charter school in their community.

At the conclusion of the discussion, school board members told the committee they would make a decision in two weeks.

Moffat County School Superintendent Pete Bergmann said Tuesday he's continued to discussions with Dinosaur mayor and charter school committee chairman Richard Blakley.

"They're willing to try and convince the board that they can deliver a quality education," Bergmann said.

Items that they have been discussing include concerns that were raised in the school board meeting last week.

A few of those concerns included:

  • Uncertainty of projected enrollment.
  • Special education services.
  • Discrepancies with the projected budget.

Bergmann said it was important that all of those issues are ironed out before a decision is made.

The committee in Dinosaur has compacted an application process into two months that usually takes a year. The school board made a decision to close Dinosaur Elementary School in April, leaving the Dinosaur committee little time to get a charter school in place before the start of the fall semester in August.

"They have to convince the board they can deliver the goods in a short time frame," Bergmann said.

But Richard Blakley said he is confident in the plan the committee has presented, adding that he was going to present Bergmann with an updated proposal today, which will address concerns brought up in the meeting last week.

"It's been a lot of work putting this together in two months," Blakley said. "But we have the commitments we need from parents and students."

A concern about a discrepancy in enrollment figures was expressed at the last meeting.

The committee said it had commitments from the parents of 22 students saying they would attend the charter school.

But in the follow-up calls to check those projections, the school district said not even half that number told them that they had committed to the school.

But Blakley said today that the discrepancy was a result of the uncertainty of whether the school would be open this fall.

"We're kind of up in the air, but I know once it's OK'd there will be no problem with enrollment," Blakley said.

Blakley said with the school district's cooperation, they could have a school ready to go this fall.

"With a little teamwork things can work out well," he said.

Should the school board deny the application Monday, state law allows the Dinosaur committee to appeal the decision to the state.

"That's an avenue I haven't even thought about because I'm hoping everything will go good," Blakley said. "That's an avenue we could take. But with the time factor, I don't know if it's feasible or not. I'm just trying to think positive right now."

The timing factor was repeatedly alluded to in the meeting last week, and could be the thorn in the Dinosaur committee's side

"I would like to see a charter school in Dinosaur and I would like to see it succeed," School Board President Phil Hastings said in the meeting. "But I don't see us getting it done for the 2003-2004 school year. I can see us getting it done for 2004-2005."

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

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