School Board approves contract

Dinosaur to offer Charter School

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The town of Dinosaur cleared the last hurdle in an effort to establish an elementary charter school in the rural Moffat County town.

The Moffat County School District Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a contract for operating the school in Dinosaur, a town with about 500 residents.

Though work needs to be done to transfer an existing school building from the school district to the Dinosaur Community Charter School, the board can begin enrolling students in preparation for an August opening.

The school board ironed out a few details in the contract including special education policies, transportation costs, building maintenance issues and budget concerns.

The charter school has submitted an estimated $125,000 budget, which will be paid by the Moffat County School District. The school district will forward all state allocations that are based on enrollment, as well as a portion of federal entitlement dollars.

Because the numbers are based on estimated enrollment, the district will have to make a reconciliation if it pays more or less than the enrollment garners.

The contract gives the district two fiscal quarters to make up or collect the difference.

The school board discussed Thursday whether it wanted to have the final responsibility to decide cases of expulsion, which it does for all other Moffat County Schools.

The final decision, agreed to by Dinosaur Community Charter School committee members, was that the district would not. Should a student be expelled, the decision can be appealed to the Dinosaur Community Charter School Board and then through the court system.

Board of Education members did not want the responsibility of hearing a case they were not familiar with.

"I don't see any reason for them to come all this way if (the superintendent of schools) isn't involved," board member JoAnn Baxter said.

Board members said that because parents had other options for appeal, their input was not necessary.

Also discussed was what would happen if the school disbands. According to the contract, the school district takes possession of the building and all teaching materials not donated to the charter school or purchased as part of a grant applied for solely by the charter school.

In terms of maintenance, the school district will complete routine maintenance on the building -- just as they would if they were going to open it up for the school year -- and then turn it over to the charter school "as is." Minor repairs will be made to the roof, and a cracked window will be replaced.

Superintendent of Schools Pete Bergmann estimates all repairs will cost less than the $3,000 budgeted.

Declining enrollment forced the closure of the K-5 school in April 2003. Of about 30 students eligible to attend the school, about 20 opted to attend elementary school in Rangely.

Students in Dinosaur attended school there through fifth grade and then were bused to Rangely to complete their educations.

The Moffat County School District Board of Education determined that state revenues weren't fully offsetting the costs of operating the school -- about $170,000 a year -- and voted to close the school.

A group of Dinosaur residents immediately started on plans to open a charter school, but were unable to put together a complete plan before the start of the 2003-04 school year.

The school is expected to open for the 2004-05 school year.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurie@craigdailypress.com.

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