Conservatives call out DCSD on charter funding

Republican officials urge district to support school choice

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A conservative educational nonprofit and Republican officials are calling on the Douglas County School District to include two non-district charters in funding allocations should the district’s mill levy override question pass in November.

A letter from Ready Colorado, a nonprofit focused on parent choice in education, urged the district to include Ascent Classical Academy and Colorado Early Colleges in the distribution of future MLO funds if voters approve it in November.

The letter is signed by Reps. Mark Baisley and Kim Ransom, Sen. Kevin Van Winkle, former representative Frank McNulty and Colorado House candidates Lisa Frizell and Anthony Hartsook, as well as Ross Izard of Xiphos Strategies.

“The Douglas County School Board should support all Douglas County families that exercise their right to school choice,” the letter reads. “These families deserve to have equal access to public funds. Standing up for the principle of school choice means standing up for all families, including those attending Ascent Classical Academy and Colorado Early Colleges.”

The two charters are located in Douglas County, but are not authorized by the school district, but instead by the statewide Charter School Institute (CSI). Schools in the CSI receive funding from the state instead of the district. 

At an Aug. 23 meeting, the Douglas County school board responded to comments about including Ascent and Colorado Early Colleges in the fund allocations by raising concerns about accountability over money leaving the district.

Superintendent Erin Kane and board member Mike Peterson indicated Ascent or Colorado Early Colleges could choose to return to the district if they wanted district funding. 

However, Ready Colorado’s letter to the board argues that the Charter School Institute could partner with DCSD to distribute funds and ensure accountability to the ballot language, which requires the MLO money be used on staff compensation.

In general, the letter is supportive of the goal of the MLO to raise compensation, but says DCSD’s decision isn’t inclusive of all students in Douglas County. 

“The Douglas County School Board could have funded all public-school students in its boundaries equitably right now, to the immediate benefit of educators and students at Ascent Classical Academy and Colorado Early Colleges,” the letter says. “We are disappointed that the district instead chose to exclude those 2,000 students from the anticipated MLO revenue.”

To read the full letter, go to readycolo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Fund-Students-not-Systems_Letter-to-DougCo-Board.pdf.

dcsd, douglas county school board, ascent classical academy, colorado early colleges, charters, charter school institute, school funding, MLO, teacher pay

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