Check out this great piece by Ben over at Ed is Watching about the Rocky Mountain Deaf School, a Jeffco charter school.
It took RMDS several years to get approved because the school's concept was so innovative. I met the founders in 1994 when the Jeffco school board was hearing charter applications the first year after the Charter Schools Act was passed. Their legal counsel, Bill Bethke, has become a well-respected charter school attorney after beginning his charter school work by volunteering for RMDS.
The funding for RMDS is also very unique. In order to make their finances work, each student's "excess costs" (a term defined in statute) must be reimbursed by the student's district of residence. Consequently, paying for a facility, with unusually high operating costs, has been nearly impossible. In the 2008 School Finance Act, legislators designated a portion of the Charter School Capital Construction Fund, initiated in Amendment 23, for RMDS to use on capital construction costs.
About ten years ago RMDS leaders approached the legislature about money for transportation costs. I recall a mother testifying that if she drove her child to the School for the Deaf and the Blind in Colorado Springs, she'd get reimbursed for travel, but if she drove across the metro Denver area to a charter school, she wouldn't. This Mom was faced with the difficult choice of either placing her child in a residential facility, with limited involvement in her child's formative years, or bear the costs associated with a charter school that didn't have equal access to public funds for students with special needs.
While small and serving a unique population of students, RMDS has quietly gone about the business of providing a quality education to its students.