GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) It's been 20 years since the first charter school opened its doors in Colorado and the option has been growing ever since.
The Colorado Department of Education says there are more than 180 charter schools, 15 new were added, including one right here in Grand Junction.
In the next month new modular units will be put in for Juniper Ridge Community School. its new campus will house 155 charter students, a number that's sure to grow.
Charter school supporter Leah Pabst says it's perfect for her son, "he is ready to learn, he is going to zoom, and I love that, I love how there isn't a lot of emphasis on testing for little kids, I really don't care about my child's test scores, but I want to know if he is happy, does he love to learn, is he curious and have a zest for life"
Pabst's two kids are students at juniper ridge, an education facilitate she believes it offers more than just testing, giving students the opportunity to learn at a developmental level.
Leah isn't alone. lots of other moms are excited about the charter option for their children.
"[My son] can sit there and do math and do all these things. he likes learning he loves to read, he loves all those things, but juniper ridge gives him the opportunities to do these things in different ways", says charter student mother, Julie Mamo.
Juniper ridge follows a different curriculum and that difference is bringing out some parents in support of the charter school idea.
"The Waldorf curriculum is a great way to learn, and really feeds to the child where they are developmentally are, and it's to the whole child, not just academics but a well rounded person", said Nicole Miller, charter school supporter.
Harry Middlemas, who's the father of a Juniper Ridge student believes the same,” we wanted our kid to still have fun, enjoy kindergarten, they do a lot of hands on stuff here, it's Waldorf based cue*, and it what we believe kids should be doing at school".
Juniper Ridge officials also say they offer smaller class sizes which goes hand in hand with their smaller school setting. District 51 charter schools are public schools and tuition free.
District 51 officials say Independence and Caprock academies, and other charter schools have waiting lists. However Juniper ridge is still accepting students.