Colorado 7th friendliest for charter schools

Colorado charter school laws are the seventh best in the nation, according to The Center for Education Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based charter school proponent.

The center ranked the District of Columbia and the 39 states that have charter school laws based on how easy it is to found, operate and receive funding for a charter in each state.

Colorado passed its charter law in 1993.

The law sets no limit on how many charter schools can operate in Colorado, and it allows charter schools to operate separately or in coordination with a local school district. Charters don’t have to adhere to school district rules as long as the charters are held accountable for standards and test scores.

School boards or the Colorado Charter School Institute can approve the creation of a charter school and denials can be appealed to the State Board of Education.

The Charter School Facilities Financing Act requires the state to give a portion of state funding to charter schools for capital construction, and the average per student funding at a Colorado charter school is $6,836 — $177.88 more than the per student funding allocated to School District 51 this year.

Caprock Academy, a charter school at 640 24 1/2 Road that opened in 2007, receives as much funding per student as District 51 but has autonomy from the district.

Caprock Headmaster Kristin Trezise said the extra paperwork involved in remaining accountable to the state is worth the payoff of running a school with a specific value set. The only major issue with funding that Trezise has encountered is charters have to apply for private bonds when they want to construct a school, whereas traditional public schools can issue public bonds with voter approval.

Trezise said Caprock leaders have attended national conferences for charter schools and learned opening a charter school is often easier in Colorado than in other states.

“We are definitely on the upside,” she said.

Colorado was one of 10 states to receive a “B” grade for its charter school law from the Center for Education Reform. The District of Columbia, Minnesota and California received “A” grades and were ranked first, second, and third, respectively. Utah was fourth, Arizona fifth and Michigan sixth.

Eleven states received a “C,” 13 states got a “D,” and three states — Kansas, Virginia and Iowa — failed the center’s test. Eleven states don’t have charter school laws.


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