Castle Rock, CO

DougCo charter proposes innovative exchange with district

Suzie Glassman

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) Representatives from Leaman Academy of Excellence charter school and the Douglas County School District presented a proposal to the school board outlining a plan for the charter to build a center-based special education program within its new school in exchange for a land lease donated by the district.

DougCo staff, along with members of the Long Range Planning Committee, recommended approving the proposal during this week’s board of education meeting, saying the partnership would allow additional capacity to meet special education needs in Parker and Castle Rock and address long-term capacity issues for the district.

According to the presentation, Leaman would pay to create two center-based classrooms. The district would then cover the costs of staffing. Leaman would also add increased weighting for special education students to its enrollment lottery.

Board president Mike Peterson said he was impressed with the partnership. He asked Director of Choice Programming Gorden Mosher if this plan could potentially set a new bar for other partnerships with the district's charters.

Mosher said the proposal is innovative and exciting. “For us to enter an agreement like this where we can mutually put pieces together that we feel are beneficial for the residents of Douglas County, while also meeting the contractual needs of the district is key,” he said.

Superintendent Erin Kane said she’s heard from the charter school community that they would like center-based programming in their schools because it would allow siblings with different educational needs to stay together. She also said the concept is a pilot, and as the district goes through the process, it will gather feedback about its effectiveness and feasibility for addressing capacity needs in the future.

Staff reviewed three potential building sites and recommended one in the Crowfoot Valley area as their top choice.

DougCo would lease 11 acres of the 22-acre site at no cost. If the board approves the proposal, the school plans to open in fall 2024.

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