It was a full house, with standing room only, at the in-person Dec. 8 regular meeting of the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Board of Education at the district’s Carbondale office.
Over 60 people, including Two Rivers Community School (TRCS) parents, teachers and students, were in attendance to support TRCS’s application to become a district-authorized charter school.
TRCS, currently chartered under the Colorado Charter School Institute, is a kindergarten through eighth grade charter school located in Glenwood Springs with an enrollment, according to its application, of about 420 students.
Superintendent Rob Stein explained that, if approved, TRCS would surrender governance authority over the school to the RFSD board.
Stein said a charter school application is typically submitted for a “hypothetical” school not yet in operation. However, TRCS, founded in 2014, has been operating for seven years, so “there is a bit more of a track record” on which to base a decision.
Stein explained that, in accordance with state law, there are three main factors to consider: 1) educational programming, 2) sufficient student enrollment and 3) a viable and sustainable financial model.
TRCS’s head of school, Jamie Nims, addressed the board with a PowerPoint presentation and by answering questions about TRCS.
If approved, TRCS could receive an additional $2,800 in funding per student, per year. “Our students and our teachers deserve the resources,” Nims explained, which would become available as a district-authorized school.
Along with the application and other supporting documents, a four-page memo, authored by Stein and RFSD Public Information Officer Kelsy Been, stated, in closing, “School districts cannot deny a charter application based on concerns about losing student enrollment or per-pupil funding.”
The board will vote on the application at their regularly-scheduled meeting on Jan. 12.
New board members
At a special meeting held via Zoom on Nov. 29, newly-elected RFSD board members Kathryn Kuhlenberg and Kenny Teitler were sworn in.
Kuhlenberg was selected as board president, Jasmin Ramirez as vice president and Natalie Torres as the secretary/treasurer.
Kuhlenberg understands the work involved by jumping in as board president. “I knew when I agreed to do it that it was going to be a fair amount of work upfront, and there was going to be some ramp-up. It’s been great so far. Everybody’s been super supportive,” she said.
In conversation with The Sopris Sun, Teitler and Kuhlenberg both said they appreciated witnessing the enthusiastic support for TRCS joining their district at the Dec. 8 meeting.
“I think it is great when the community supports its schools, and it was evident from the crowd that was there that Two Rivers has great support for their programming and their school. It is nice to know that people are passionate and excited about their schooling choice,” Teitler said.
When it comes to board business, they understand the need to hit the ground running and said the RFSD leadership team and administrative staff have been helping to facilitate that process.
Teitler shared, “There’s a lot of protocols and language to learn to do the job, so that is a lot of new learning for me. The educational part I feel better adapted to — having spent many years in the district as a teacher. The lingo and speech around educational programming hasn’t been as steep of a learning curve for me.”
Kuhlenberg said, “Kelsy [Been] has been great. She’s really patient and has given me what I need so that I can catch up on the institutional knowledge side of things, just by knowing what’s been done in the past.”
Both shared that they are looking forward to continuing the board’s work in supporting students, parents, teachers and staff.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement and energy. I’m really excited to be at the helm and see where that leads because it’s a great group of people, and everyone brings unique experiences and perspectives. I feel like we can be of great service to the district — how that works and how that looks moving forward is something that I’m excited for,”
It takes community support to keep The Sopris Sun shining.