Deb Read, head of the finance subcommittee of the Owl Creek Community School Initiative, told The Ouray County Watch on Friday that the funding cut would certainly affect them, though it was unclear how much, since they have yet to finalize their budget.
“The bill impacted the Capital Construction Fund, which can be used either for construction of school facilities or for rent,” Read said.
The Capital Construction Fund fills a gap in state funding of charter schools; regular start-up funds granted by the state Department of Education cover everything but facilities. Read said Owl Creek Community School Initiative is in the process of applying for a start-up grant of $450,000 from the Colorado Department of Education.
“We’ll use a lot of that money for technology – computers, mother boards and things like that – because after start-up it’s hard to find grants for technology.”
The bill also impacted the makeup of the board of the Colorado Charter Schools Institute, which, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, was created by the state to open charter schools without the approval of local school boards. With passage of the new bill, members of the Colorado Charter Schools Institute board or members of the State Board of Education may not serve on a charter school governing board or work at a charter school.
State representative Ray Rose from Montrose supports this provision as it eliminates a possible conflict of interest posed by membership on multiple boards.
According to Rose, the Schools Finance Act also contains substantive legislation – inappropriate in a funding bill – that places charter schools entirely under the auspices of the public school system. While charter schools were already governed by the same rules and regulations as public schools, “there were safety valves that allowed for flexibility,” Rose said.
“This is a concern for me,” Rose added. “You don’t take the successful partner in a partnership and tell them that they now have to do what the unsuccessful partner tells them to do. This new legislation brings those schools under the traditional oversight of a public school system that can’t or doesn’t see the need for flexibility.”
Rose, member of the House Education Committee, voted against the Schools Finance Act. He was unable to specify at the time exactly how the new schools finance act altered governance of charter schools.