This week the charter appeal hearing between the St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD) and the Imagine School at Firestone was about a minimum number of Free/Reduced Lunch eligible students being required by the district. The district said that because theFree/Reduced Lunch rate in the Firestone area was 31.1% the charter school contract should require that minimum or else if the charter school fell below for two consecutive semesters, they'd lose their charter.
Every new charter school in the state is eligible to receive the Colorado Charter School Start-up Grant IF they use a lottery for admission. Federal nonregulatory guidance on the lottery doesn't allow for dual lotteries to guarantee a certain F/R minimum. It doesn't even allow weighting students with extra lottery chances if they qualify for F/R Lunch. However, with a mandatory requirement, the odds of an open lottery guaranteeing enough F/R Lunch eligible students is remote. In other words, Imagine School at Firestone would have to forego their chances at receiving approximately $500,000 or more over their first three years of operation simply because of this charter contract requirement.
The SVVSD claimed the mandatory minimum was a "target" and not a "quota," as the charter school applicant's attorney called it. There are several charter contracts in the state that stipulate a goal for F/R Lunch eligible students. The difference is when consequences are attached to not meeting that minimum. Then it becomes a quota.