Estes Park denies charter school application
The Estes Park Board of Education unanimously denied the application by the Loveland Classical Schools Monday night to open a charter school in Estes Park. The decision was announced as one of the last items on the board’s agenda.
School board member Jason Cushner read a lengthy resolution that detailed the reasons the members of the board of education would deny the application, including a lack of demand, concerns about sustainability and financial viability of the charter school.
In reading the resolution to deny the application, Cushner read, “the Board of Education finds the denial of the application is in the best interest of the district, its students and the community.” The resolution cited a lack of evidence that an adequate number of students would enroll in the school and that the Loveland Classical Schools, based in Loveland, had not undertaken a marketing or outreach plan to recruit potential students over the past four months. The resolution was particularly critical that the Loveland Classical Schools had shown “a remarkable lack of effort to inform and recruit” students from the district Spanishspeaking families, which is a significant portion of the district’s parent population.
With overall declining enrollment in the Estes Park schools over the past two decades, the board cited a concern that there would not be enough students to sustain the school, which had projected an increasing student enrollment between years two and five.
The denial also cited an unrealistic estimate for renovations to the proposed facility without the benefit of a needs assessment or for how the school would secure funding to pay for renovations and other necessary programing.
The denial also made reference to the lack of community support evidenced by the number of people who had spoken out in favor of the school versus the number of people who had spoken out against the school, and also to the lack of evidence that the charter school board would have Estes Park representation.
After the lengthy resolution was read, a roll call vote was held. The resolution to deny the application was approved by all the board members. After the vote, each board member spoke about the reasons behind their decisions.
John Davis talked about how he had attended a multi-cultural classical school in India and how he was philosophically in support of school choice and of the orientation of a classical school, but with declining student enrollment numbers and with concerns about the economic viability of the charter school as proposed, he could not support the application.
Ian Stout, the executive director of the Loveland Classical Schools, attended the board meeting and spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting but he left for another meeting before the board voted on the charter school application.
In a written statement provided to the Trail-gazette, Stout said, “We appreciate EPSD’S time to consider the Lcs-estes Valley application for charter replication. Although the families who asked us to submit this application hoped that the decision would go in a different direction, they also understood the challenges that came with applying to open a new charter school in the current environment. We firmly believe and data shows that school choice is good for students and communities and that a robust classical education is a solution to our broader education challenges. It’s not a coincidence that the top-performing schools in Northern Colorado are all classical, Core Knowledge charter schools as was proposed for Estes Park in the LCS-EV application. Loveland Classical Schools will continue to provide excellent outcomes for our students in Larimer County, including some from Estes Park. We are always open to partnering with EPSD to help serve its students and families.”
Peter and Dana Maxwell were organizers of the charter school
effort in Estes Park. The Maxwells sent a written message to the Trail-gazette following the board of education’s decision, “Regardless of charter school application next steps, in making their decision against, the board took no issues with the quality of educational outcomes from the LCS-EV charter concept. Increased educational outcomes was the single greatest reason behind the application in the first place, and should be where the greatest attention was directed. The rest can be addressed with an open mind and a genuine sense of partnership. As Voltaire once said, perfect is the enemy of good.”