After nearly 20 years in Grand County, Indian Peaks Charter School will not open for the 2019-2020 school year with the school’s leadership citing low enrollment as the reason why.
Calls to the school are met by a voicemail recording that announces the closure and expresses the upmost confidence in the East Grand School District, which has set the first day of school for Aug. 26.
A Thursday news release from the Colorado Charter School Institute explained how Indian Peaks opened in Granby in 2000 and has typically seen 20-30 students each year over the last five years.
But that number dwindled to just 18 students last year, and the school was expecting even fewer this year, the release added.
“While its small numbers allowed for personalized learning and a close-knit community that the school was known for, it also led to extremely tight financials,” the release said.
As a result of the low enrollment, the school’s director Michelle Kennard and school’s board of directors made the decision to close Indian Peaks for the 2019-20 school year. The school is also supporting families in their transitions to a new school.
“Our primary concern are the children in this school and their families,” Kennard wrote in a letter to the families with children at Indian Peaks. “Mr. (Frank) Reeves, superintendent of East Grand School District, has pledged to welcome and transition our students to ensure their success.”
According to the release, small school districts serving fewer than 50 students receive funding for a minimum of 50 students by law.
However, CSI charter schools don’t have access to the same levels of funding if the charter schools serve fewer than 50 students even though they are funded with taxpayer dollars like regular school districts and do not charge tuition fees.
“Operating a school is challenging work, and operating a rural school is even more challenging,” said Terry Croy Lewis, CSI executive director, in the release. “This seems to be exacerbated for rural CSI charter schools that may not have the same access as traditional public schools to public funds such as federal forest and mineral lease funds, local mill levy overrides, or local tax funds for bonds.
“We support Indian Peaks’ decision, are grateful for the district’s partnership during this transition, and will continue to explore ways to support small rural choice options in Colorado,” he concluded.
Indian Peaks will be the second small, rural charter school in the CSI portfolio closing in a year, according to the release.