Independent Denver charter considers joining a network
- Roots Elementary, an independent charter school in Denver that uses a personalized learning model while also focusing on social-emotional learning, is considering whether to join the successful Rocky Mountain Prep charter network, according to Chalkbeat.
- The Roots board of directors will consider input from the school’s families on possibly joining the network while also looking for a new leader.
- The Rocky Mountain Prep network has been growing, both by adding its own sites and by absorbing previously independent charter schools. James Cryan, the founder of Rocky Mountain Prep, suggests that the network could learn some practices from Roots, while Roots could benefit from the network’s success at raising student performance, the article says.
Independent charter schools have taken steps in recent months to separate themselves from large nonprofit and for-profit charter management organizations (CMOs). The Coalition of Public Independent Charter Schools (CPICS) launched in March, with leaders pledging to provide resources to the leaders of independent charters and to have more of a voice in state and federal policy. Last fall, those interested in participating in the organization adopted a manifesto that calls for attention to the whole child and emphasizes cooperation with traditional district schools more than competition.
But independent charters also face significant challenges. Whereas networks might have a centralized staff responsible for areas such as curriculum development, after-school programs and human resources, leaders of independent charters must manage all of those tasks locally. Independent charters might also be more likely than those in networks to have difficulties affording or securing facilities — especially in states that don’t provide facilities. Space issues, in fact, can keep a charter school from opening.
In a recent piece for CPICS, Todd Landry, who leads Chapel Hill Academy, a charter school in Fort Worth, Texas, said that CMOs, as well as “single-campus charter schools” must be prepared to meet the growing demand for charter schools. He created a framework describing the elements that allow single-campus charters to be successful and to expand. Human capital, he writes, appears to be the most important factor in successfully expanding a charter school. This includes involving the community and the staff in planning for expansion, making sure the leader of the charter is not new to the organization, and “‘seeding’ the new campus with current successful teachers and staff.”
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