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Our view: Charter school shines

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The North Routt Community Charter School in Clark is on track to pay back a $60,000 loan it received from the Steamboat Springs School District in 2012. The plan calls for the charter school to repay the debt by June 30, 2022, with annual loan payments of $10,000.

At issue:

North Routt Community Charter School has initiated a plan to repay an outstanding $60,000 debt it owes the Steamboat Springs School District.

Our view:

The agreement signals the school is on strong financial footing, which is good for North Routt, good for education.

Editorial Board: October 2016 through January 2017

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Jim Patterson, evening editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Jason Peasley, community representative
  • Todd Hagenbuch, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

The loan repayment plan was initiated by the charter school and approved by the Steamboat Springs Board of Education last week. The agreement signals to us that the charter school is on solid ground, and we think this is great news for Steamboat’s public education system and for the community of North Routt.

The charter school is now in a financial position in which it can set aside $10,000 per year to repay the loan, which is a turnaround from 2004 when the Steamboat district loaned the school $112,000, to help offset a budget shortfall that was attributed to low enrollment numbers at the time.

In 2012, North Routt Charter School had whittled down its debt to $51,000 but expenses associated with the move into a new state-of-the-art, 12,000-square-foot building increased the amount it owed back up to $60,000. At that time, the school was having a hard time building up excess money to repay the loan while also working to attract new students to fill the larger campus.

Fast forward five years, and the small K-8 school in Clark now appears ready to decrease that original loan to zero through the next 10 years while continuing to serve local students through its unique expeditionary learning model. It seems, after a little bit of a challenging start, the school has found firm footing and a more stable enrollment, which now totals roughly 100 students.

In other positive news, North Routt Community Charter School was recently invited to begin the process to become an accredited expeditionary learning, or EL School. Expeditionary learning uses minimal textbooks and is very interactive, and complements the school’s robust outdoors program.

In our opinion, having a charter school in North Routt strengthens the entire community, offering an option for parents who want their children to attend school close to home and providing a greater sense of place for those living in Clark, Hahn’s Peak and Steamboat Lake ares. The school also provides students living in the Steamboat School District with another educational option.

With about 100 students enrolled in North Routt and 140 in Montessori, we think that shows there’s room for all three schools, in addition to private school options, and we’re glad to see they all seem to be thriving.

Like the new Mountain Village Montessori School in Steamboat, North Routt Charter School gives families more choices when it comes to educating their children. Not all kids learn in the same way and having options that cater to different learning styles enhances our entire public education system.

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