In November, the school board voted to deny Cornerstone Academy’s charter application. Among the reasons for denial: lack of financial solvency, low enrollment numbers, no plan for serving Special Needs children, and no location site.
One board member said in November that she felt the application was very incomplete and not well thought out, stating the application failed to meet many of the minimum requirements of much of the charter school rubric.
The district’s accountability committee, SPAC (Strategic Planning and Advisory Council) also recommended the board deny Cornerstone’s application.
Following WNW’s swearing in at the end of November, Witt commented that he wanted to revisit Cornerstone’s application to avoid the expense of an appeal process, implying the new board intends to allow Cornerstone to move forward despite its many issues and the application’s failure to meet many standards.
Here is a link to a letter from the Colorado Department of Education declining Cornerstone’s application for a Title V Charter School Start Up Grant of $215,000. http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9D883B7E48FB/$file/Cornerstone%20Academy%20of%20CO%202013-14%20grant%20CCSP.pdf
From November 7, here is a link to Cornerstone’s 6 year budget proposal http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9CWSTJ5FEC04/$file/CAC%20Full%20Capacity%206-yr%2010-21-2013.pdf
Here is a link to the rubric for charter school review of Cornerstone referenced above where you can read Cornerstone’s failure to provide goals for assessments, to explain where partnership money will come from, to provide any significant time for staff development, to mention the READ Act, to provide a solvent budget for the first year or provide for Special Ed Services.
Below is a letter from John Peery, who oversaw charter schools in Jeffco and who has recently resigned his position, in which he explains his issues with Cornerstone’s application: http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9CZ4Q9787A31/$file/EX%20J%202013-memo%20to%20Supt%20CAC%20%202nd%20budget.pdf
We have not yet seen the agenda for the April 3 meeting but prior board discussion indicated Cornerstone would be added to the April 3 agenda.
While there is some justification of the need for a charter like Cornerstone in the south area, a number of questions remain unanswered about this particular charter’s application. To approve the application of Cornerstone without an answer to these questions could prove to be a burden on our district and another financially irresponsible decision on the part of WNW.
Then there is always the question of our school district’s limited resources. Any time a new charter school is approved, it drains money from all of our schools, including other charters.
You can read all the documents on Cornerstone Academy here http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public by clicking on meetings, then scrolling to the November 7, 2013 meeting agenda.
UPDATE: Lisa Cook wrote about what happened regarding Cornerstone Academy and the conditional approval at length here:http://www.examiner.com/article/new-jeffco-charter-school-given-conditional-go-ahead
It boils down to this: they need to meet the conditions, which include the concerns about special education, parental involvement, and especially budget and tie by April 24. If they don’t, the application is denied. If they meet all the conditions except a site acceptable to the district, they’ll be given additional time to pursue a site, which might include delaying their opening date by a year.
The decision was made at the Feb. 6 regular board meeting, and the recorded minutes are available on the Jeffco Schools website. Supporting documents should be available in BoardDocs.