Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
School Choice & Charters

Colo. County Using Charter Law to Launch Voucher Program

By Nancy Mitchell & Education News Colorado — July 20, 2011 3 min read

Douglas County school board members gave the final nod of approval Tuesday to a charter school that will serve as the administrative home of students with vouchers.

School board members voted unanimously June 27 to create the Choice Scholarship School but made that approval contingent upon a review of its charter school application by the district’s accountability committee.

With committee members’ comments in hand and a tweaked application, school board members voted to move ahead with the next step in the voucher pilot, formally known as the Choice Scholarship Program. The vote was 5-0, with two board members absent.

Some charter school leaders have criticized the use of the state’s charter law to implement the pilot. Yet neither that criticism nor multiple legal efforts to halt the voucher plan appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of Douglas County school board members.

“I think this is a momentous time in the life of our Choice Scholarship Program,” board member Craig Richardson said before Tuesday’s vote. “I’m excited about this next step in our deployment of that program.”

The charter school needs one more stamp of approval. Douglas County leaders are asking for a series of waivers, typical of charters, and will go before the State Board of Education in August.

‘Nothing Like This Has Been Done Anywhere’

Charter schools are usually created by outside groups—from parents to for-profit companies—who want to offer an alternative to traditional neighborhood schools. They form a board of directors, submit lengthy applications to school districts and plead for approval before school boards.

But the Douglas County charter is different. District administrators wrote the application at the direction of the school board, which waived the usual application timeline and, on Tuesday, appointed the charter’s first board of directors. It consists of three parents of voucher students and two community members, including Ben DeGrow, an education policy analyst for the Independence Institute.

Even more unusual is that the voucher charter won’t have teachers or classrooms. Instead, up to 500 students will enroll in the school but they’ll take their vouchers totaling $4,575 in public funds—and their backpacks—to private schools.

By creating a charter, Douglas County gets a state-assigned school number for funding purposes and can more easily track the attendance and testing of its voucher students. In the resolution approved Tuesday, the charter is described as “the most efficient way” of managing the pilot.

“As far as we know, nothing like this has been done anywhere,” Robert Ross, the district’s legal counsel, said last week. “There is not a pattern for this, we’re creating it.”

Responding to Criticism From Charter Leaders

Using a charter school to implement the voucher pilot has sparked concern from some charter-school leaders.

When EdNews Colorado first wrote about the “voucher charter” concept in March, Alex Medler, who has long been active in the state and national charter movements, commented “this idea is extremely problematic” and “hopefully this is a non-starter.”

And Jim Griffin of the Colorado League of Charter Schools was quoted in the Denver Post as saying the Douglas County charter application “just does not meet what we have adopted as quality standards for charter school applications.”

Tuesday, Richardson responded to criticism that the Douglas County voucher charter is a “sham.”

“I think that’s an unfortunate and somewhat shrill description of what may be a very legitimate policy difference,” he said. “Reasonable people can disagree about this …

From EdNews Colorado

“I would urge all of us to remember, including our friends in the charter community, this is about – let’s see what works, let’s see what doesn’t work and we’re very, very interested in their views.”

Related Tags:

Republished with permission from Education News Colorado. Copyright © 2010 Public Education & Business Coalition. For more information, visit www.ednewscolorado.org.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
America is more divided than ever—and dangerously so. We need not look any further than the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election. The denial of

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
The shift could have lasting effects on both public schools and the home-schooling movement.
10Homeschool IMG
RyanJLane/E+
School Choice & Charters Opinion Challenging 3 Common Critiques of School Choice
A new volume from Corey DeAngelis and Neal McCluskey challenges some of the familiar but suspect assertions that pepper public debates about school choice.
3 min read
School Choice & Charters Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
School Choice & Charters Opinion COVID-19 Has Capsized the Case Against School Choice
Amid the pandemic, public schools aren't able to deliver on their promises. This makes it hard to denounce school choice's tapestry of options as an inadequate or immoral alternative.
2 min read