Update on 2018-19 School Services
Monday, September 16, 2019
Over the past 18 months, the Colorado League of Charter Schools has added several talented team members and implemented a new program structure to elevate the value of the services that we bring to our members and the charter sector as a whole. Last year, we began rolling out a menu of new services to schools throughout the state. In this article, we highlight three examples of the feedback that we are receiving and the value that we are contributing through these new offerings.
Salida del Sol Academy, Greeley, Colorado
Salida del Sol is a dual-language public charter school with over 680 students in grades K-8 on the eastern side of Greeley. The school, which opened in 2014, is situated in a 70,000 square foot building and operates under the care of a leading superintendent Deirdre Pilch. Over eighty percent of students qualify for Federal Free & Reduced Lunch. Many students are English language learners. A year ago, the school was designated Priority Improvement under the state performance framework, one of the lowest state ratings.
To help the Academy fulfill its vital mission, Salida del Sol’s leadership entered into a yearlong service agreement with the League for the 2018-19 year. Through the agreement, the League’s team, including director of academic programs, Kia Murray, and a state specialist, Sabrina Hodges, began working to evaluate classroom instruction and make a series of improvements in teaching-and-learning.
In early September, David Sanchez, the school’s director and CFO, shared the great news. According to Sanchez, “Salida del Sol Academy improved its SPF from Priority Improvement to Improvement. On behalf of Salida’s board, staff and teachers, I wish to extend our gratitude to the League and their consultants. Under their guidance, we have made great strides and begun the process of providing quality instruction along with better utilization of classroom time.” Because of the success it has experienced, Salida del Sol has extended its service agreement with the League through the 2019-20 year.
Vision Charter Academy, Delta, Colorado
Vision is a public school of choice in Western Colorado. According to its website, Vision has “three campuses located in Cedaredge, Delta and Paonia, Colorado, serving four counties and averaging an enrollment of 450 students in grades K-12. Our rural community is composed primarily of small businesses and agriculture with a total population of 30,000 in Delta County and a median income of $42,000.” Vision is authorized by Delta County 50-J.
Last year, the League conducted a site review with the goal of helping Vision’s leadership evaluate the schools’ programs and make academic improvements. According to Willyn Webb, the Academy’s executive director:
"Having the Colorado League of Charter Schools site review and resulting work plan has been a valuable experience that I am confident will have a lasting impact on the quality and improvement of Vision Charter Academy. The communications from the beginning and continuing have been excellent, timely, and professional. The team of five, which we now refer to as the "Fab Five" were not only highly qualified experts in their specializations, but warm, friendly, and inviting in the interactions. The site visit, review, and work plan have already made our school better. I highly recommend this process, with these professionals for any charter school wanting to strive for excellence."
Vision partners closely with families to tailor the experience for every student in a manner that integrates instruction at home with rigorous campus-based coursework and extracurricular offerings. By helping Vision achieve its mission, we feel fortunate to be contributing to one of the most unique, quality choices available in any rural community in the state.
Highline Academy, Denver, Colorado
Highline Academy has two campuses in urban Denver, one in the northeast and the other in the southeast quadrants of the city, which together educate over 950 students in grades K-8. This unique charter organization is sponsored by Denver Public Schools, the leading district authorizer in the state. Chris Ferris, executive director at Highline, oversees two campuses that provide a highly engaging, personalized experience to students and families.
Over the past two years, the League team has worked diligently to broaden and deepen its engagement with Denver charter schools. According to Ferris:
"As I look around the Denver landscape today, I really see what has happened. I see Brandon Hellwig [the League’s associate director of organizing] everywhere. He has really built trust with many of the charters and ed reform organizations. I know that my HR Director gets so much out of the meetings and one-on-one advice from Trina Maull [the League’s director of talent & HR services]. Trina has helped me to evolve my thinking about the role of HR in retention and supporting diversity amongst our staff. I see Dan Schaller [the League’s VP of State & Local Policy] actively engaging with Denver charter leaders. And I know Kaci Coats [executive director of the Collaborative for Exceptional Education] has been supporting schools and SPED leads directly in a way that they were hungry for. From my perspective, the League seems to really care about and is supportive to Denver charters in a way that was not so clearly demonstrated in the prior years."
As the Colorado League of Charter Schools enters the 2019-20 year, our team is truly grateful for the opportunity to serve such a resourceful, dedicated membership of over 10,000 charter school educators throughout the state of Colorado. Against what at times seem like overwhelming odds, these entrepreneurial educators are bringing distinctive, high-quality choices to 128,000 students in rural, suburban and urban communities statewide. To build on the experiences highlighted above, every member of the 21-person League team will conduct site visits at 18+ member schools over the course of the 2019-20 year. Through these visits, we will tighten our relationships, inform leaders of our services, and extend value-added services to many more schools.
To learn more about school quality reviews and how the League can better support you, click here.