By: JoAnn Rassmussen
There are a wide variety of public schools in Jefferson County Colorado: charter schools, option schools, district-run neighborhood schools. The choice is yours!
Any student in the county can attend any school that has space available, and that process starts January 7th! More information can be found at the JeffCo Public School website.
A Charter School is a public school, but what sets it apart from the other options? The following reasons are why a Charter School appealed to us.
I love the curriculum.
Charter schools provide a curriculum that differs from a typical neighborhood public school. (Despite having differing curricula, Charter Schools are still required to meet State Standards.) Some examples of the different types of curricula would be: Waldorf, Montessori, or Core Knowledge, to name a few. Our school does the Core Knowledge with a mix of Saxon Math and Shurley Grammar, and I love it. It’s been the perfect fit for our child.
Because we were looking at starting the school in her Kindergarten year, the fact that Specials were being offered to the Kindergarten classes was also a big plus. As a Kindergartener, she would be exposed to Spanish, Technology, Music, Art, Physical Education.
Many of the neighborhood schools I visited started offering the full-range of Specials to children in First Grade and beyond.
Along with a robust curricula, our charter school provides levelized learning. My daughter was “ready” for Kindergarten well before the time she reached the magical age dictated by the Jefferson County School Calendar. Because the Charter School accommodates different learners at different levels within the same grade, she’s always been challenged. The needs of those in her class that struggle are met, as well. The way the teachers get things to flow so nicely in class never ceases to amaze me.
Speaking of teachers and how well they work with the kids, a typical class has 28 students with a Teacher and an Assistant. So, for a majority of the day, the student to teacher ratio is amazing. Many Charter Schools operate with Wait Lists. According to their charter agreements, they are only allowed a certain number of students. Enrollment is based solely on the luck-of-the draw. As mentioned above, In Jefferson County, the Choice / Open Enrollment process starts in January. Now is the time to put in those applications!
A level of parental involvement that was not only tolerated but encouraged
Many Charter Schools expect a certain number of volunteer hours per year, per family. Not only does this provide the schools with creative cost-saving measures, it builds a sense of community.
A budget overseen by a Board of Directors and available to the public at any time
Another draw toward the Charter School, for me, was how well they are able to maintain their budgets. Charter Schools have the ability to be fiscally conservative in certain areas in the face of looming budget cuts at the district level. Despite being a public school, the funding they receive is not equal to that of a neighborhood school when it comes to PPR (Per Pupil Revenue), so it can be tricky at times. The flexibility to be in charge of all that is refreshing. All of this is done with a transparency that has been required since Day 1, and I love that.
For us, Charter Schools are the best of both worlds.
They provide the feel of a specialized learning environment but do so in a public school setting. The minute I walked through the doors at our Charter School, I knew it was our home. I am so incredibly thankful for this option!
JoAnn used to write at The Casual Perfectionist, now mostly offline, she can be found writing, watercolor painting, conducting covert missions, decoding secret messages, and pretending her life is more exciting than it may very well be.