Charter school plan fails

Dinosaur committee considers appealing Moffat County School Board decision

The Moffat County School Board's vote Monday to approve a charter school in Dinosaur ended in a tie, which killed the measure at least for now.

Dinosaur residents who want the school can either take their case to the state Board of Education or wait another year and submit another application to the Moffat County School District.

"There are still many loose ends that cannot be dealt with in the time given," Moffat County School Superintendent Pete Bergmann said. "My recommendation (against the charter school) is based on a timing issue."

"I anticipate that this committed group will reapply to meet the Oct. 1 deadline."

School Board members Jerry Magas, Gary Ellgen and John Wellman voted for and board President Phil Hastings, along with members Rod Durham and Steve Hafey voted against the resolution. Board member John Kinkaid was absent,

The tie vote is not considered a majority under Robert's Rules of Order and therefore the measure did not pass.

But Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakley, who spearheaded the committee for the charter school, said he questions the legality of the board's vote.

"If we can, we will appeal," Blakley said. "I am waiting for the legal department at the Colorado League of Charter School to call me back so we can decide what to do."

Blakley said the board's decision was a personal attack on those who want to start the charter school.

"As far as I'm concerned our town cannot grow without the school," Blakley said.

"I don't think they realize what they are doing to our kids. A lot of kids don't want to go to Rangley. It's like they are ghetto kids there."

In a meeting that lasted about two hours, about an hour and a half was spent on the issue of the school. Much of the concern was centered on the issues of timing, budget and special education services and costs.

"Every student that is identified as needing assessment (for special education) would cost the district $1,000 just for the assessment to take place," Bergmann said, qualifying that the expenses would be for a team to go from Craig to Dinosaur for the day to conduct the evaluations.

But the deciding factor was the amount of time needed to draft a workable contract between the Dinosaur Community Charter School and the board. The board proposed having the charter school board come up with a contract by July 1.

Hastings said he had a "real concern" regarding the feasibility of coming up with a contract within a two-week timeframe.

Board members, however, said the decision was not easy.

"I want to give you guys every opportunity to keep your school afloat," Magas said. "I am 100 percent behind you."

This action of the school board follows in a pattern of setbacks for some Dinosaur residents in their quest to have a school located within their community next year. The Moffat County School board voted April 7 to close Dinosaur Elementary School because of declining enrollment that could hinder school financing and educational quality issues.

Because the board voted in the spring, there was far less time for the community to put a bid together for a charter school.

"I have no doubt that they can accomplish this task in the future," Bergmann said.

In a meeting two weeks ago between the school board and the Dinosaur school committee concerns regarding the charter proposal were raised, including uncertainty of projected enrollment, special education services, and discrepancies with the projected budget.

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