District 49 recommends charter school applicants become familiar with the Colorado Charter School Act and the NACSA Principles and Standards. Additional resources for school developers and more information about the district's needs are available in the request for applications.
The Colorado Charter School Act (C.R.S. 22-‐30.5-101 et seq.) allows for the establishment of charter schools to create a legitimate avenue for parents, teachers, and community members to implement new and innovative methods of educating children that are proven to be effective and to take responsible risks and create new and innovative, research-based ways of educating all children within the public education system. District 49 believes that it is the obligation of the school district to provide all students with schools that reflect high expectations and create conditions in all schools where these expectations can be met. In addition, the district believes that different pupils learn differently and public school programs should be designed to fit the needs of individual pupils. To these ends, District 49 authorizes charter schools in such a way that the district upholds the three core principles of charter authorizing as defined by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and adopted by the Colorado State Board of Education:
- District 49 maintains high standards for schools. This includes setting high standards for approving charter applicants; maintaining high standards for the schools the district oversees; effectively cultivating quality charter schools that meet identified educational needs of the district; overseeing charter schools that, over time, meet the performance standards and targets set forth in their charter contracts through established measures and metrics; and closing schools that fail to meet standards and targets set forth in law and by contract.
- District 49 upholds school autonomy. This includes honoring and preserving core autonomies crucial to school success, including governing board independence from the authorizer, personnel, school vision and culture, instructional programming, and budgeting; assuming responsibility not for the success or failure of individual schools, but for holding schools accountable for their performance; minimizing administrative and compliance burdens on schools; and focusing on holding schools accountable for outcomes rather than processes.
- District 49 protects student and public interests. This includes making the well-being and interests of students the fundamental value informing all the authorizer’s actions and decisions; holding schools accountable for fulfilling fundamental public education obligations to all students; holding schools accountable for fulfilling fundamental public education obligations to the public; and ensuring in its own work ethical conduct, focus on the mission of chartering high-quality schools, transparency, effective and efficient public stewardship, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and supporting parents and students in being well-informed about the quality of education provided by charter schools.
District 49 published a request for applications (.pdf) to provide context and information for those interested in launching a new public charter school in the district. The RFA highlights the district-identified areas of greatest need both from a programmatic and geographic perspective. The district invites charter applications that have designed programs aligned with the district’s mission, the iConnect Innovation Zone’s mission, as well as the identified priority needs (see page 9) at this time. While applicants are strongly encouraged to consider the areas with the highest evidence of need in developing their application, District 49 also welcomes all applicants that demonstrate a high-quality school design and strong community support. Interested applicants should also download and review the board principles standards and practices document (.pdf).