Elementary/Middle School Program
601 N. Mildred Rd., Cortez, CO 81321 | 970-564-9377| kivacharter.org
February 12, 2019
Dear RE-1 School Board of Directors,
We have compiled this letter and enclosed documents to demonstrate our continuing efforts to respond to the issues identified in the Notice of Material Breach dated December 13, 2018 from Superintendent Lori Haukeness.
Following is our response to the specific areas of breach outlined therein:
Facilities Stabilization and Sustainability
- Stabilization of Facilities
- At this point we have not obtained a certificate of occupancy for the Mildred location. Due to a variety of issues that include asbestos cleaning and a frozen water pipe which resulted in a flood, this location will not be available for use during the 2018-2019 school year.
- At this time the Children’s Kiva Montessori Elementary/Middle School (E/M S) is seeking a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for our prior location at 25 N. Beech Street and additionally 215 N. Linden St. The CUP was approved through Planning and Zoning on February 5, 2019 and will go to City Council on February 26, 2019. The CUP will allow our school to stabilize and provide appropriate and adequate facilities for the remainder of the school year. As you all may know, the location on Beech Street was utilized by E/M S for two years and provided an appropriate classroom space for our students.
- In addition, Crow Canyon has authorized the use of their campus through Spring Break. See Attachment 1. As a result, E/M S intends to move to the new locations during the week of Spring Break and resume classes through May 2019 at the Beech Street and Linden locations.
- Our insurance has Extra Expense Coverage which will support these rental obligations.
- Sustainability of Facilities
- We have an amended lease showing the financial impact of the new terms of mortgage restructuring. See Attachment 2. Under the amended lease Children’s Kiva Building Corporation (CKBC) would reduce the terms of our lease until July 2023, at which time terms will be renegotiated.
- As requested, we are submitting a proposed long-term facilities financial plan from CKBC (documents associated to restructure of the long-term debt) including amount of debt restructured, monthly payments for the life of the loan, and proposed impact on terms of the lease with E/M S beyond the next 2 years. See Attachment 3. These are budget documents from the CKBC demonstrating three years of financial planning.
Enrollment Stabilization and Sustainability
- Demonstrate stabilization of current enrollment this year
- You asked us to demonstrate a loss of no more than 5% of currently enrolled students (as of December 12, 2018 SIS the school has 77.5FTE enrolled) FTE enrollment.
- In addition to 21 Kindergartners (11.76 FTE), our school currently has 55 1st - 8th graders enrolled as follows:
- 1st Grade - 11
- 2nd Grade - 14
- 3rd Grade - 7
- 4th Grade - 4
- 5th Grade - 8
- 6th Grade - 3
- 7th Grade - 3
- 8th Grade - 5
- Much of the unenrollment in the last 2 months of 2018 occurred due to the instability of the facilities and budgetary concerns. It is our opinion that these issues were compounded by the negative press. Many felt closure was imminent at or shortly after Winter break and that they should enroll their student(s) in an alternative school of choice quickly, before losing a spot in their second choice school.
- Demonstrate sustainability of enrollment for next year
- You asked us to demonstrate committed enrollment of 98 FTE for 2019-20 by February 12, 2019. At this time E/M S currently has 73 completed Open Enrollment Requests or 68.38 FTE. See Attachment 4.
- As mentioned earlier regarding this year’s enrollment, student enrollment for next school year has been difficult given previous administration and leadership (which has been resolved), our current location challenges, and the negative publicity surrounding our school. We believe that we will have the ability to recruit additional students over the summer break once the Mildred facility is complete and the overall status of the school’s future is determined. Moreover, many students enroll in their school of choice just weeks before a new school year begins. Given the constraints we have worked under we believe that recruitment efforts should be continued through the end of the school year and into the summer.
- There are additional areas where recruitment has not occurred as a result of our current “unknown” position and focusing on remedying current breach topics. For instance, Towaoc representatives have indicated a minimum of five families that have children who would like to enroll and potentially more when our school has an opportunity to meet face to face with the Towaoc community. Spring is the optimal time to conduct outreach and recruitment.
- Given our current committed enrollment numbers our Board has worked tirelessly to determine the fiscal impacts a lower student count would have in the coming years. We have determined that in order to have a program that holds true to our Mission and Vision, we need 83 FTE next year and 88 FTE each year after. Attached is a budget that demonstrates our ability to be financially viable at this student count. See Attachment 5.
While we have not remedied all of the issues that took years to develop, we feel we have made substantial steps forward in just five months despite obstacles from varied angles. As already mentioned, this has entailed extensive board and leadership changes. Children’s Kiva Montessori Elementary/Middle School Board of Directors understands the issues that our school is currently facing. Despite the extreme challenges experienced this year, our staff, volunteers, families, students, and Board members continue to fight to rebuild so that we may educate our students through an authentic Montessori program. We all agree that students and families should have a choice when it comes to their student's education and that Montessori education is a great and desired option in our community. It would be tragic for our school to close - for this community, for our sister school, and for our staff and students. This would not be in the best long-term interests of the District, the community of the many students who continue to want Montessori education and either remain in Kiva, despite the misfortunes and mistakes of the past year, or would happily return or enroll is it became clear the District was giving Kiva a chance to continue and renew its commitment to high-quality Montessori education. We hope each of you will consider all of the information we have presented to you.
We implore you all to allow our school to continue to operate. We ask that RE-1 School District negotiate appropriate benchmarks for enrollment later in the Spring, in the Fall or both for our school for the 2019-2020 school year and give us additional time to continue to work to remedy remaining issues. If you give us this opportunity, we pledge to continue to do everything in our power to restore the trust and fulfill the hope you placed in the Children’s Kiva Montessori when you first approved our charter.
Children’s Kiva Montessori Elementary/Middle School Board of Directors
Attachment 1: Agreement between Crow Canyon and E/M S
Attachment 2: Amended Lease
Attachment 3: Long-term Facilities Financial Plan
Attachment 4: Open Enrollment Requests
Attachment 5: Budget