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A Fresh Look at Charter Schools

What exactly IS a charter school?

Some 7,500 students currently attend Jefferson County's 17 charter schools. Enrollment at these schools is growing faster than in district neighborhood schools. Why are parents sending their children to these schools in unprecedented numbers? Why are these schools drawing so much attention nationally and more specifically in Jeffco?

The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County is taking a closer look at these schools at its April 14-16 unit meetings to learn what they are about: what their philosophies are such as Montessori or Core Knowledge; how they operate; how they are funded; and what they look like. Every Member Material Pre-reading

The League's Education Committee has also put together a booklet for LWV members with in-depth information about charter schools history, legislation and specifics about Jefferson County Charter Schools as a resource for meeting discussions.

This booklet entitled Charter Schools: A Refresher Course can be downloaded free to charge or a print copy ordered from the League. See below on how to order your print copy or contact our office at

There are six public Jeffco LWV unit meetings this month.
Pick the one that is most convenient for you!

Tuesday, April 14, at 9:15am
St. Philip Lutheran Church
7531 S. Kendall Blvd,Littleton 80128
Call Christina at 303-810-6824 for information.

Tuesday, April 14th at 1pm
Sportline, 6543 Wadsworth Blvd., 80003
Call Exal at 303-678-0873 for information.

Wednesday April 15th at 9:15am
Westland Meridian, 10695 W. 17th Ave., Lakewood, 80215
Call Ruth at 303-238-3969 for information.

EVENING brown bag dinner meeting
Wednesday, April 15th at 6pm
Jeffco LWV Office,1425 Brentwood, Suite 7, Lakewood 80214
Call Lucinda at 720-254-5741 for information.

Thursday, April 16th at 9:15am
Cason Howell House, 1575 Kipling St., Lakewood 80215
Call Susan at 303-503-3992 for information.

Cost $1.00 per booklet (includes shipping)and is tax-deductible.
Please send your payment (Payable to LWVCO Education Fund) and your mailing address information to LWV Jeffco, 1425 Brentwood Suite 7, Lakewood, CO 80127.

Please feel free to download the booklet free of charge. Charter Schools: A Refresher Course

League In Action: Opposes GVCA Charter School Application

January 20th, 2015
Jefferson County Board of Education GVCA CHARTER SCHOOL APPLICATION

Charter Schools have become a significant component of the Jefferson County School System. Each year groups submit applications to the Board of Education (BOE) to open more charter schools.

The Golden View Classical Academy (GVCA) Charter Application has been "conditionally approved" by the BOE; however, the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County urges reconsideration of this application. This application appears at first glance to be a well-thought-out charter application calling for rigorous academic standards. Due, however, to its strong ties to Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, MI) and the Barney School Initiative, as well as its stated intent to partner with Colorado Christian University, it would seem that this Charter violates both Colorado State Statute 22-30.5-104, which authorizes charter schools, and Jefferson County Schools Policy IMDCA, which pertains to religion in public schools.

A careful review of all relevant charter application materials and the contract the applicants have signed with Hillsdale College reveals the following minimum commitments between Hillsdale and GVCA:

  • "GVCA Corporation shall look to Hillsdale College as the first and primary source of models, resources, and guidance on the development and operation of Charter School's academic program including, without limitation, the academic mission, academic policies, curriculum, and teacher practices, consistent with the terms and conditions of Charter School's approved charter application.
  • Potential candidates for Principal of GVCA will be identified and screened by Hillsdale...
  • Hillsdale College shall provide teacher education seminars of a duration, scope, and location to be determined by Hillsdale College...
  • Hillsdale will provide guidance on books to read as part of the curriculum and to be contained in the school library.
  • Hillsdale will provide budgetary oversight...." Hillsdale College's mission includes the following: " [to be] a trustee of modern man's intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith."

According to the GVCA application, they intend to engage Colorado Christian University to provide music education for its students.

The state statute authorizing charter schools states: "A charter school shall be a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home-based school which operates within a public school district."
The Jefferson County Schools Policy IMDCA (section dealing with religion in public schools) asks the following questions:

  • "Does the activity involve an excessive entanglement between the school and a religion, religious group or organization?
  • Does either the school or religious activity require the consent or approval of the other?"

The policy also states: "...if the activity involves excessive entanglement, then the activity is unconstitutional and shall not be permitted in the Jefferson County Schools." Clearly, sufficient evidence exists to support the fact that GVCA's proposed ties to Hillsdale College and Colorado Christian University are sufficiently "entangled" with these religious groups as to constitute violations of both the state statute and Jefferson County School's own policy.

In addition to these considerations, GVCA's charter application states that they will operate a "classical liberal arts and sciences, Core Knowledge K-12 school". Jefferson County Schools opened the Addenbrooke Classical Academy in the 2013-14 school year. Although Addenbrooke was expected to open with 100 students, current enrollment is only 56 students. Another "classical" academy would seem to be repetitive and unnecessary at this time.

In view of all these facts, the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County requests that the Jefferson County Board of Education deny the GVCA charter application as submitted.
Patricia Mesec, President

League Speaks Out on School Budget Process!

Tuesday, Dec 09, 2014
PRESS RELEASE on the Jefferson County Board of Education Budget Process

Money, money, money! Where does the money for Jefferson County Schools actually go?
It will soon be time for the Jefferson County Board of Education to develop the budget for the next fiscal year. What is the process? Who will be involved in the process? What are the priorities?

The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County supports policies that promote efficient administrative and financial practices in the Jefferson County School District. To that end we believe that citizen participation on advisory committees should continue throughout the budget process. Public workshops and hearings should be held early in the budget process and a cross section of the community must be engaged throughout this important process.

It is imperative that information be gathered from a broad sample of Jefferson County citizens. This broad sample must include all socio-economic levels, age levels, diverse race and ethnic groups, as well as people with and without children.

A survey with multiple questions would be the most cost effective and valid method by which to gather such a sample. Survey questions should be developed by professionals trained in designing surveys that accurately represent the opinions of the community as a whole.

The School District budget must reflect not only the principles and goals of the district but those of the larger community as well. A well-developed budget will reflect careful stewardship of scarce resources.

Patricia F. Mesec, president League of Women Voters of Jefferson County

League of Women Voters Mission of the League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Nonpartisan means we neither support nor oppose candidates at any level of government, but are always working on issues of concern to our members and the public.

PLEASE NOTE: The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates for office, or political parties, and any use of the League of Women Voters name in campaign advertising or literature has not been authorized by the League.

More information on How the League Works

DISCLAIMER: All links on this site are provided for your convenience only. The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County exercises no control of the information or opinions contained on them. Provision of these links does not indicate an endorsement of their contents by the LWV Jeffco.


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