School Board gives charter school ultimatum

Dinosaur must raise enrollment or face closure

More than two weeks after an enrollment deadline, Dinosaur Community Charter School board members turned in their final numbers. Eight-and-one-half students are officially on the rolls, nearly five less than what's needed to make the school a go.

Moffat County School District Board of Education members gave the Dinosaur community an ultimatum Thursday night: Get 12 students enrolled by July 15 or the school won't open for the 2004-2005 year.

School board member Steve Hafey said DCCS members said they expected 20 students and have had a year to recruit the numbers.

"The (school's) a great dream and you know we support it, but we can't send (students) into something that won't work," he said.

The 12-student requirement is set out in the charter school's contract with the school district and was based on financial issues and quality of education.

The Dinosaur school will be funded -- like the Moffat County School District is -- by state-allocated per-pupil dollars. When the number of pupils decreases, so does the revenue. The charter school's proposed budget is based on 12 students, which would pay the three teachers needed to run the K-6 school. Fewer than 12 students and teachers would have to take a pay cut, something they're willing to do, DCCS Principal Dana Forbes said.

But a reduction in revenue can also mean a reduction in the quality of education -- a risk school board members weren't willing to take.

Charter school officials attended Thursday's meeting to discuss enrollment and to ask that the contract be amended to allow the school to offer courses for seventh- and eighth-grade students, of which six have expressed interest. DCCS Board President Richard Blakley said that would allow enrollment numbers to reach the minimum required.

School board members weren't confident the charter school could provide a quality education to the proposed students.

"I think K-6 is already ambitious and adding two more would cause the quality of education to decrease," board member JoAnn Baxter said.

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