EDITORIAL: Valentine’s Day for the Charter School? Part Three

Read Part One

We will never know why the Archuleta School Board failed to sign the charter contract with the Pagosa Peak Open School on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017.

According to Colorado law, a school district is required to negotiate a suitable contract with an approved charter school, within 90 days of the approval vote. The School Board’s approval vote for the Pagosa Peak Open School took place on November 14, 2016.

Last night’s School Board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6pm, was preceded by a lengthy ‘executive session’ during which the School Board was presumably discussing the Pagosa Peak charter contract with their attorney. We will never know what was said in that meeting, because ethically, participants in a government board’s executive session are prohibited from revealing details of the closed-door discussion.

All we know is that the School Board convened in open public session at around 6:30pm, and Board member Bruce Dryburgh made a motion to table the contract issue. The motion passed. No date was given for when the charter contract would again be considered by the School Board.

I was not at the School Board meeting last night. My rock band, The Retrocats, had booked a Valentine’s Day gig at the Rez Hill Grill on Hot Springs Boulevard, with a start time of 6pm.  So I heard this story from my daughter, Ursala Hudson, who is president of the Pagosa Peak Open School board of directors. Ursala showed up during one of our breaks, and shared the distressing news with me.

This decision by the Archuleta School Board — to make no decision — pretty much guarantees that the Pagosa Peak Open School will be unable to open its doors as planned, this coming September. The school had been awarded a $405,000 start-up grant by the Colorado Department of Education. The school had arranged a wonderfully expandable location, centrally located in the community, in the Parelli Building in Aspen Village. The school had begun interviewing candidates for the School Director position, and had received dozens of enrollment applications from local families.

After two years of research, and after having their application vetted by the well-respected Colorado League of Charter Schools — and approved by the Archuleta School District — the Pagosa Peak Open School board members sat in the audience at last night’s School Board meeting and listened to the distressing vote.

What a sad Valentine’s Day gift.

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Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson founded the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 in hopes of making a decent living writing about local politics. The hope remains.