Elementary/Middle School Program

601 N. Mildred Rd., Cortez, CO 81321 | 970-564-9377| kivacharter.org

                                                                                

December 10, 2018

Dear Kiva Community,                                                        

We appreciate all of the questions and concerns you have sent our way this week. With this letter we would like to address some of those questions that you have posed as thoroughly as we can.  Please understand that we can not answer all questions due to a lack of information and time.  We encourage you to continue asking questions as they come up. As a reminder, our Board meetings include a Community Member Forum and this is a good opportunity to share your thoughts with the Board and for others to hear as well.

We understand that the recent news and possible outcomes have caused a great amount of concern. Please know that the Board is working diligently. Please refer to the included RE-1 Letter, dated December 10, 2018, to review actions we have taken so far to meet the requirements of our Charter and actions we are still working towards.

It is vital that you share your thoughts regarding the status of the Kiva E/M S Charter with RE-1. As a reminder, Lori Haukeness, Superintendent, is hosting an informational meeting for  Kiva community members today, Monday, December 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm at 400 N. Elm.  Our board will meet in a Special Board Meeting tonight, Monday, December 10, 2018 at Children’s House at 7:30 pm where we will discuss the option of surrendering the Charter.  RE-1’s board meeting is tomorrow, December 11, 2018 at 7 pm at 400 N. Elm. There is a ‘Citizens Address the Board’ portion of this meeting and this would be a good opportunity to share a prepared statement with the RE-1 Board. Each person is permitted 5 minutes to address the Board. All schools will be presenting a snapshot of their UIP and Kiva is on the agenda for discussion. You may view the agenda here: http://images.pcmac.org/Uploads/MontezumaCortezSDRE1/MontezumaCortezSDRE1/Departments/DocumentsCategories/Documents/December%2011%2C%202018_%7BSISAF4104D1C1CF%7D.pdf)

Some of you have asked for Lori Haukeness’s email address so that you could communicate directly with her. As a reminder, Ms. Haukeness included her phone number in her letter to parents and encouraged you to reach out to her directly: (970) 565-7282.

Following are some of the many questions we have received from our Kiva Community.  Although we do not have answers to all of the questions, we have provided answers as thoroughly as possible:

There are current volunteer needs that we desperately need support with: breakfast pick up from Manaugh, lunch pickup and serving, attend the RE1 meetings and use the ‘Citizens Address the Board’ portion to share prepared words - it is vital that the district be aware of the opinions and concerns of Kiva families, make a donation if you are able - donations can be earmarked for specific needs, join a committee -  such as Building and Locations, Fundraising, Board Development, School Accountability, and/or become an active member of PTO.

While the current building issues are a concern, it is not the only concern. There are financial concerns, operational concerns, policy concerns, and concerns regarding student academics.

Currently the cleaning, clearing, and testing process is scheduled to be complete by February 5, 2019. Construction in Phase 1 will be in process during this time frame. Once cleaning and clearing is completed, contractors will need to complete building a fire barrier wall in the other side of the building.  This is expected to take about 2 weeks.

Transportation certainly played a role for some families. However, many of the transitions occurred due to prior administration concerns, academic concerns, building instability, and the articles in The Journal all contributed to the decrease in enrollment.

Yes, we met the minimum enrollment requirement of 95 full time equivalent (FTE) students. We had 87 students in 1st through 8th grade, 19 kindergarten students who count for .58 FTE and 3 at .5 FTE. This is a total FTE of 99.5.

We continue to be in discussion with the RE-1 School Board.

This is in process and has been an ongoing conversation.

The options are extremely limited due to a variety of factors. If you have ideas and connections, please consider joining our Building and Locations Committee where these ideas could be researched and presented to the Board for consideration.

It is on their agenda to discuss our Charter.

This remains uncertain at the moment.

Should the District find us in breach of contract, they will specify a cure period, likely 30 days. Should they determine after that period that we have not adequately met those terms, they could file with the Colorado Department of Colorado (CDE), to permanently close our school. We would then have the option to appeal this decision in a CDE hearing in Denver. Filing of the appeal would be made 20 days after notice of not successfully curing the breach and the hearing would be scheduled within 60 days, at which point a final decision would be rendered.

Should we surrender or if the Charter is revoked later on, that would be up to those families to decide and make the best decision for their family.

The E/M S Board has included this on their meeting agenda for Monday, December 10, 2018.

This is not a topic this Board will discuss at this time, as we are charged with the Kiva E/M S school functions.

We do not have to surrender the Charter. It has been presented to us as a strongly recommended option that the District feels would be in the best interest of the students.  Many factors have played into the School District's decision to ask us to surrender and these revolve around policy concerns, performance concerns, financial stability, and building concerns. The District has valid concerns about the future of our school.

We are meeting tonight, Monday, December 10th at 7:30 pm at Children’s House and plan to discuss the current situation.

Per RE-1 representatives, Children’s House has been a stable program and they are willing to work with Children’s House to keep those kindergarteners there through this school year and in the future.

This is a difficult question. If we surrender the Charter we will no longer have a Charter in years to come. If we are found in breach of our Charter and CDE agrees, we will no longer have a Charter.

This is a current goal, although contingency options must be established.

There are repercussions either way, which makes this a very difficult decision.

 E/M S Board will consider this in the future, if possible.

The building was purchased through the Children’s Kiva Building Corporation (CKBC). CKBC exists to support our school through the use of the building. The County is not involved. The Re-1 School District is our authorizer and must hold each Charter School accountable, due to the many concerns they have had discussions with the E/M S Board.  

E/M S Board is discussing all possible options at this time.

This enrollment number is based on the October 2018 count, which was 99.5. The district is concerned that our enrollment has dropped 18 percent and continues to drop since the building issues and the move to Crow Canyon; we continue to receive revenue based on our October count and they anticipate that our enrollment will continue to fall.

It would not be possible to get it back in time for next year. There would be a need to start an application process for a new charter school from scratch and charter schools usually require multiple years to establish.

 All of the above are concerns for those in our school and those outside of our school. Our school is tasked with providing a high quality education, appropriate use of public funds, safety, and well being of every child. When these areas are in questions it is the District’s job to hold us accountable.

While the negative press has been detrimental to our enrollment and public image, it is not the primary driver in their decision.  As mentioned above, there are a wide variety of factors impacting the District’s concern for our school.

We are currently working with actual enrollment numbers as required. We would love to have these families identified, but at this time, potential enrollment will not change our current situation.

        No.

Yes, attend their BOD meetings, call, and write letters. Their Board meetings are open to the public and are covered by the press. There is always a ‘Citizens Address the Board’ portion and any community member may take five minutes to speak to the Board.

The BOD has been consulting with legal counsel throughout this situation and will continue to do so. 

This school is an authorized public charter school, there is not an option to change to a private school. A completely new school would need to be started.

Kiva has fought this battle since inception and the availability of appropriate locations are extremely limited. The building could not be sold for a loss due to loan obligations.

Again, we thank you for your continued interest and support for the Kiva E/M S program. We know the uncertainty of all of this is very difficult. Your feedback and questions are invaluable as we navigate our way through this process.

Sincerely,

Children’s Kiva Montessori Elementary/Middle School Board of Directors

Attachment: RE-1 Letter (dated December 10, 2018)