Sunday, February 24, 2013

John Griego, 2013 Charter Friend for Authorizers

Our friend and team member, John Griego, received the 2013 Charter Friend Award for Authorizers. John works part-time for Colorado Springs District 11 where he's been an administrator, a private school administrator and for years, the charter school liaison for the district.

John is known for his collaborative approach to chartering. In addition to holding regular administrator meetings for the district's charter schools, John has also invited the state Charter School Institute schools located within district boundaries.

When accepting the award, John recognized his fellow teammates at D11, including Kris Odom, Ruth Smith and Mark Capps. The high level of communication among this team is essential to providing exceptional services to the district's charter schools.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Celebrating 20 Years

Yesterday the people responsible for Colorado having a charter school law talked about how it happened and what their original vision was for the charter school sector.

Former Governor and State Senator Bill Owens and former State Rep. Peggy Kerns were the original sponsors of the Charter Schools Act. Barbara O'Brien, former Lt. Governor and former President of the Colorado Children's Campaign lobbied for the bill.

Bill Owens, who was out of town and so participated via video, said after an unsuccessful attempt to get a charter school law in 1992, he and Peggy Kerns ran the bill in 1993 and barely got it through the Senate. In fact, the Senate Education committee vote was 4-3 and the vote on the floor of the Senate was 18 to 17. Then Governor Roy Romer lobbied his party members for votes in support of charter schools.

Originally provisions were added to the legislation in order to get enough support for passage. Those initial concessions included a cap of 50 schools and a sunset in 1998. Both provisions were removed in 1998 when the Act's pilot status was removed in a bill sponsored by then Senator Ken Arnold.

Panelists also recognized Bill Windler who worked for CDE at the time and became a founder of Academy Charter School in Castle Rock, the first K-8 school to open in 1993 shortly after the Charter Schools Act became law. The other individual recognized was Dave D'Evelyn who died in an airplane accident while he was working for CDE. After Dave D'Evelyn's death, Bill Windler, took over charter school responsibilities for CDE.

More than 400 people attended the first day of the state's charter school conference. More workshops and special guests are planned today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mandatory Parent "Volunteer" Hours

At least one state in the nation, Florida, allows charter schools to require parents volunteer x number of hours in the school in order for the student to be re-enrolled the following year. Oftentimes parents are "encouraged" to volunteer in their child's school and many charter schools even suggest an appropriate number of hours to donate. But in Colorado, these "volunteer" hours cannot be mandatory, nor can parents be told they can buy out their hours with a donation.

Similarly, parents can be asked to pay for school supplies or field trip fees as long as the class or activity they're paying for isn't a course required for graduation or advancement to the next grade level. For example, a student cannot be required to pay Chemistry Lab expenses when Chemistry is required for graduation.