Our View: Long distance decision

School board members may have good reasons for denying the Dinosaur Community Charter School's request to expand to seventh- and eighth-grade, but they didn't voice them.

There is a hypocrisy to the "prove you're 100 percent successful before you expand" response school officials gave to the request.

Where would the school district be if parents said they would enroll their students only when the school district's average ACT score is decent, all graduates can read or when not one student has an unsatisfactory CSAP score?

It would see a serious cut in funding and certainly would not have expanded to open an alternative school last year.

No school is perfect, and we commend the Moffat County School District for the strides it is making and the effort educators are putting into ensuring no student is left behind.

Dinosaur residents should be given that same chance. The school board had enough faith to sign a three-year charter school contract, and though it has been a challenge and there have been obstacles, DCCS has complied with the state and local requirements.

It's a school with a highly qualified staff and a four-to-one student-to-staff ratio. No other student in Moffat County has the opportunity for such constant, one-on-one attention.

Parents who are concerned enough about their children's education to commit to volunteering 50 hours a month in the school say it's a terrific school.

And who better to judge?

We respect the expertise that school district officials have, but they haven't convinced anyone that the Dinosaur decision was in the best interest of the students and not to prove a political point.

According to DCCS officials, not one school board member has visited their school, met the teachers or talked to the students.

Sometimes you have to lose something before you realize how important it is. Many people didn't fight back when the school district decided to close the school. Since then, many have banded together to fill out the endless paperwork and meet the high standards required to open as a charter school.

And they're fighting now. DCCS board member Richard Blakely said the Moffat County School District agreed to allow the school to offer seventh grade in its second year of operation and eighth grade in its third year.

They have the money to do it and teachers champing at the bit. DCCS officials are willing to do whatever it takes to offer seventh and eighth grade, and they contacted an attorney to ensure that it happens.

School board members should not wait for this issue to become a legal battle. As long as the Dinosaur Community Charter School can provide a quality education and meet state and local requirements, they should be allowed to do so. There's not been one instance in which school board members have been presented with any evidence that students in Dinosaur aren't getting that quality.

Whatever board members decide, they shouldn't do it from 90 miles away. They need to have a first-hand picture of the state of the school and the classrooms.

Then they can decide: The school either has a strong program or it doesn't. If it does, allow students to benefit from it for as long as possible. If it doesn't, shut it down.

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