New charter school up for approval Dec. 11

If the charter for Juniper Ridge Community School is approved Dec. 11 at the District 51 School Board meeting, Patrick Ebel will be happy, but not surprised.

One of the primary organizers behind the school, Ebel said he and other members of a committee that submitted the nearly 400-page charter for the school to District 51 on Oct. 1 have answered plenty of questions from the school district and the board. Feedback so far has made him optimistic.

“I’m pretty much planning on it happening,” he said, referring to the School Board vote to authorize the charter.

Ebel said the approval would allow the school to move forward with a goal of opening in fall 2013. So far, Ebel said the school has received 68 intent-to-enroll forms for potential students. The school is aiming for 160 students total in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The school does not have a property picked out yet, but Ebel said the charter authorization should make the search process for a location easier.

“Until you have that charter authorized, people aren’t going to talk to you seriously about lease options,” he said.

Ebel said parents and educators working on opening the charter school are considering hiring Denver-based charter school consulting firm Educational Facilities Solutions to help them search for the perfect location. The firm would be paid through broker’s fees and part of the school’s budget, according to Ebel.

If its charter is approved, Juniper Ridge would become the third district charter school affiliated with District 51 and receive state funding per student. Juniper Ridge would be the only local charter school to use a Waldorf-inspired curriculum, an education method developed nearly a century ago in Germany that encourages experiential, art- and nature-focused learning.

Ebel said the school plans to purchase a commercial curriculum that matches Colorado state standards for public schools and use a consultant from California to help the school recruit Waldorf-certified teachers from across the nation.

The school plans to apply for a three-year grant for start-up schools this winter and use part of the money to provide continuing education courses for teachers who aren’t Waldorf-certified to earn that certification over three summers at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, Calif. The certification program would also involve some online work at home.


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