Proponents refining Englewood charter school application

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The Englewood Academy founding board of directors is not giving up its effort to establish a charter school in the community.

“Our board decided we won't appeal the Englewood School Board's Dec. 11 decision not to approve our application to establish the community's first charter school,” said Mary Zachariah, founding board president. “But we still want to establish a charter school in Englewood, so we are continuing the process. We listened to the school board's comments and we have already started work on refining the applications that should address many of the school board's concerns.”

She said, for example, plans are to address the school board's concern that at least 50 percent of the planned eventual enrollment of 400 children should live in Englewood. She also said there are plans to refine the entire application, including more clearly defining the goals of the charter school.

“We plan to spend several months working on the license application,” Zachariah said. “Our goal is to resubmit the application in August and, if it is approved, we plan to open the school in August 2014.”

The Englewood Academy proponents submitted their application on Oct. 1 to the Englewood School Board, requesting the board approve the application and grant the group a license to open a charter school in Englewood in August 2013.

“Our school district followed the state-required process when considering a charter school application,” said Brian Ewert, school superintendent. “We had the application reviewed by the district advisory community, held two community meetings and had three pro charter school consultants review the document.”

The school board met Dec. 11 to consider the application. Members first went into closed-door session with their attorney so the attorney could inform them of their legal obligations as they considered the license application.

The result was that the board unanimously voted to deny the application and listed 10 reasons for the decision.

Reasons included statements that the school was not tailored to the district community, the lack of transportation and food services for the students, concerns about the budget and not having a building identified for the school.

Zachariah said some of the concerns can't be answered until the license request is granted.

“The school board said they were concerned we don't have a building,” she said. “We have looked at several buildings but we can't execute a lease on a building until we know we will be permitted to establish the charter school.”

The school board also listed a lack of transportation as a reason for not approving the license application.

“We don't see this as an issue,” she said. “I checked with numerous charter schools and none of them provide student transportation. Generally, that is handled by parents and by car pools.”

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