Charter school hopes for 2013 opening

By: Brian Shlonsky Email
By: Brian Shlonsky Email

A new charter school with a unique focus could be coming to Mesa County, giving you a different choice on where to send your kids.

A group of parents is still working on writing the charter for the school, which will be called Juniper Ridge Community School. The school hopes to use tax dollars, instead of District 51’s shrinking budget, to teach kids the regular curriculum using art and nature.

"We like to garden and camp and my son loves to explore and be creative," said Alice Haberkorn. Haberkorn is raising her 5- year- old son, Milo, to be close with nature, so when she got wind that the new school with that same love for nature might be starting up right here in town, she hopped on board.

"Because the charter school is art and education based, it would be a little bit of a continuation of kind of the things we do here at our home and the way we live our life," she said.

The Juniper Ridge Community School is inspired by the Waldorf model of schools, which are found all over the world.

"The school employs art, music, movement, story to actually teach the academics," Patrick Ebel said. Ebel hopes to have the school’s charter approved by the district, where he’ll then send his two kids.

"Plan is to open the fall of 2013, with kindergarten through sixth grade, we'll have one class each of that, and add one grade each year, and eventually have kindergarten through twelfth grade," Ebel said.

Right now, there's still a lot of work to be done.

"We're still in the early stages of writing the charter, (and) we have met with the district," Ebel said.

Once Juniper Ridge files an official application, the district will then begin a process to decide whether or not they will approve the charter.

"We would be operating this school independently of the district, so it's a way for the district to get another school, but not really have to spend the time and the money to operate it," Ebel said.

The money would come from the state, as per pupil funding, and the school will also apply for state grants. Haberkorn hopes that money won't be hard to come by, even as state cuts to education near a billion dollars.

"I don't think educating a child is ever a waste of money, if we can look at it in a creative way, and really try to maximize the potential that each child has, there's no cost in that," Haberkorn said.

The district says since Juniper Ridge hasn't started the official application process, it's too early to tell whether or not it’ll approve the charter.

If the district doesn't, the next step for the school would be to try to have the charter approved by the state instead.

The school has to have the charter approved in order to receive state funding.

Interested parents meet every Thursday. If you'd like to connect with the group you can find them on Facebook.

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