Start goes smoothly in Dinosaur

Classes began Tuesday without problem at reconfigured charter school

The first day of school at the newly configured Dinosaur Community Charter School came and went Tuesday with few problems, administrators said.

In fact, the transition from the school being part of the Moffat County School District to the Hope Online Learning Academy has been seamless, Dinosaur school board President Richard Blakley said.

"Everything is running smoothly," Blakley said Friday. "You walk in and it's an exciting atmosphere. We're not seeing any unhappiness or dissatisfaction or anything. So far, I'm really impressed."

At the end of August, the Dinosaur school and the Moffat County School District finalized an agreement to part ways after a two-year partnership. The school, located 90 miles west of Craig, joined Hope Online, a tuition-free, public charter school offered through the Vilas School District in southeast Colorado.

Students at Dinosaur -- the kindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment stands at 18 students -- complete course work through Hope Online's curriculum via computers at the school. The school also employs three teachers, or mentors.

A teacher from Hope Online visited the school Thursday and will continue coming to the school once a week for the next few months to monitor student learning, Blakley said.

While enrollment is low, Blakley said he believes it will increase with time.

"We're looking at some avenues where we could add some stuff to our curriculum," he said. He added, "I'm sure once word gets out on how well everything works, we'll see a big influx."

Under its agreement with the Moffat County School District, the Dinosaur school surrendered its charter and terminated its contract with Moffat County. The school district, in turn, released the Dinosaur school building to the charter school for a $2,000 fee.

Tensions ran high between the two educational bodies since November 2005 when Moffat County revoked the school's charter for non-compliance with state and federal laws.

Under Hope Online, Dinosaur has a valuable and thorough resource to help it comply with mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act.

"It's pretty impressive how it meets with No Child Left Behind," Blakley said.

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