LONGMONT — After several setbacks, Flagstaff Academy and Carbon Valley Academy charter schools are close to signing leases on buildings within the St. Vrain Valley School District.
Flagstaff Academy, which signed a contract with St. Vrain in December, has spent the past two years trying to open its K-8 Core Knowledge school in Erie.
In January, Alande Co., the developer of Erie Village, pulled out of its agreement to locate Flagstaff in its development, Flagstaff President Karen Fidelak said. Neighbors in the development had complained about the school being located there, she added.
The move forced the charter’s planners to look for a new location, this time in Longmont.
“Originally we hoped to be in Erie, but there are not a lot of open buildings in Erie,” Fidelak said.
Organizers are hoping to open the charter school at 1841 Lefthand Circle, an office building that “appears to meet our needs,” she said. But if that deal falls through, the group has found another suitable location near Gunbarrel.
“We’ve been open with all of our families. We tell them we are looking in south Longmont,” Fidelak said. “The majority of our Erie parents are committed to us, but we are now getting enrollments from out of this new area.”
Flagstaff hopes to have a signed lease by the March 23 Board of Education meeting. As part of its agreement with the school district, the academy has to find a location by March 31. It plans to open Aug. 22.
“We are confident we can be open by then. We should have buildout costs by next week,” said Kevin Terrien, senior project manager with CB Richard Ellis Denver’s Project Management Consulting Group, which is working with Flagstaff on tenant improvements to the Longmont building.
He said the school’s schedule for finishing the building is “reasonable and achievable.” Officials plan to open the school with nine classrooms, taking up 15,000 square feet of the building, Terrien said.
Phase two of the project will expand the school to 30,000 square feet.
The horseshoe-shaped building has a grassy courtyard in the middle that will serve as the school’s playground, Fidelak said. The site also is close to a park, which gives the students additional grassy areas on which to play, she said.
Flagstaff’s board said the school will remain at that location for three to five years, but organizers still hope to build a permanent facility in Erie.
Carbon Valley Academy, which will be in the Tri-Towns, is eyeing a building in Frederick. Like Flagstaff, Carbon Valley has until the end of the month to find a location.
The school, which was approved by the St. Vrain Valley Board of Education in December, is close to signing a final agreement with district officials for its charter.
In the meantime, the school has also experienced some unforeseen hiccups in its plans.
Chad and Megan Auer, the school’s founders, planned to use the K12 curriculum, an online curriculum typically used by home-schoolers.
Unfortunately, said Megan Auer, the K12 organization decided it would no longer “develop the classroom version (of its curriculum) and would not be providing an on-site trainer.”
Carbon Valley’s board had been counting on that free on-site training.
K12 also “raised the price per pupil of us buying it and figuring it out ourselves,” Megan Auer said.
The school is now looking at adopting the Core Knowledge curriculum as its educational foundation. Many charter schools in Colorado, including Flagstaff Academy, are following Core Knowledge Foundation guidelines.
The program outlines what children need to know in grades K-8. But it doesn’t pull it all together for schools, Megan Auer said.
“This has been a huge job,” she said.
The school has six people working on which books should be used in each core subject. The group has narrowed its textbook selections to three in each core area except history and geography. There is only one book for that combined subject, she said.
Carbon Valley organizers hope to sign a lease at 4040 Coriolis Way in Frederick, just off Weld County Road 18 and the Interstate 25 frontage road.
The two-story building is a finished office complex, Auer said.
“We would have to do a lot to it,” she said. “We have to put up walls, finish the gym area. It is totally wired for high-speed Internet. It’s really open. That’s kind of nice.”
The building is large enough that it would allow the K-6 school to expand to grade eight in the next three years.
Carbon Valley already has 215 students enrolled.
“We’re counting on a certain number of folks not showing up as it gets closer to the start of school,” Chad Auer said.
The school is working on getting some grants, including one through the Colorado Department of Education. Smaller grants would help the school build a library and pay for technology improvements, he said.
Even though the school has hit some snags, “it’s coming together,” Megan Auer said. “I’m excited.”
Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-684-5211, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.