The Weld RE-4 School Board voted unanimously to approve the American Legacy Academy, or ALA, charter for the 2023-24 school year Monday night.
The contract allows ALA to open a K-8 school on two campuses, the first of which will open next year. The contract begins next summer and runs until June 2027.
ALA will be the second charter school in the Windsor and Severance School District, joining Windsor Charter Academy. The Ascent Classical Academy of Northern Colorado is also located in Windsor, but is licensed by the state.
The charter application was submitted in April this year and had to be approved or denied by September, according to law, but the board granted a one-month extension “to complete contract negotiations and approve a contract”. , depending on the resolution.
Michelle Scallon, superintendent of Weld RE-4, said she has established “a great relationship” with the American Legacy Academy team, led by board chair Julie Babcock, and looks forward to “a lasting partnership.” with the ALA”.
Prior to the vote, council member Aaron Smith offered to recuse himself if other council members felt he had “personal gain or pecuniary gain” because he had a letter of interest for the school. However, no board member expressed concern, so Smith voted.
The opening of the American Legacy Academy, which will prioritize Weld RE-4 students, should help the district cope with its rapidly growing student population. At maximum capacity, ALA could serve 648 students on each campus, depending on the contract. Last year, five of the district’s nine schools were operating beyond their 100 percent capacity.
Weld County voters are also invited to vote on a $271 million bond in November to help the district build more schools to help with overcrowding. Last year, the district failed to pass a $180 million bond to cope with rapid growth.
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Where will the American Legacy Academy be?
This is still pending as the ALA has been unable to secure a location for one of its two campuses.
If the school fails to open a campus by fall 2023 and does not obtain an approved extension, its contract with Weld RE-4 ends.
ALA had previously asked the district to give it land in the RainDance community to build the charter school, but the council finally decided to keep this landwhich is intended for a traditional public school.
After council voted against granting the land to ALA, the charter school offered $2.1 million in cash to the district for the 10-acre land, but the board voted 4 to 1 against selling the land. Most board members said they just had to listen to their constituents, and it was clear the RainDance community didn’t want a charter school in the field.
The contract between the school and the district allows for an extension if the ALA continues to struggle for land. ALA leaders must notify the board by Jan. 1, 2023, if they suspect they will need an extended time to open and can give a “good cause,” and district consent “shall not be unreasonably withheld”.
If the ALA comes to the board after Jan. 1, however, it’s up to the board’s discretion if they want to grant an extension.
Babcock told the school board that she wanted to be candid that building a school right now is not an easy task due to “the environment of high inflation and high interest rates and the slow flow of goods”, but that they are convinced that they will open a building next year.
Babcock told the Coloradoan they still don’t have a definitive location, but are working on a few different options and holding out hope.
“It is our mission and we are committed to having a school open by August,” she told the school board on Monday evening. “We could come to you and say, ‘Can we do it in September?’ but we are committed to opening this school by August 2023 (with) one location.
Molly Bohannon covers municipal government and higher education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at [email protected] Support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today