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School board approves contentious $3.7 million for charters

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By Daniel Laverty

The Jeffco school board has earmarked an additional $3.7 million for charter schools in the 2014-15 budget, a move that sparked cheers and jeers at a packed meeting last week.

The new board majority, which campaigned last year on giving district parents more school choice, backed the appropriation to address funding inequities faced by charter schools. 

The board’s political divide continued to be evident as members began work on the budget for the next school year. Another point of disagreement came on a proposed $600,000 for expansion of full-day kindergarten, which was defeated.

 

Charter school funding

The additional money for the district’s 14 charter schools is aimed at easing a disparity in state per-pupil funding that favors neighborhood schools over charters.   

But the proposal proved controversial among the audience at last Thursday’s board meeting.

“This money cannot come out of thin air,” Tina Gurdikian said during public comment. “We have already cut staff at neighborhood schools and have delayed repair work. We have cut electives at the high schools. Where will we cut for this?”

The audience appeared evenly divided on the issue, and both sides reacted accordingly after each remark during the more than one hour of public comment.

“Children learn in a variety of ways,” said Dave Smith, an eighth-grade teacher at Mountain Phoenix Community, a Jeffco charter school. “Every parent deserves to