A highly regarded Denver-based charter school network this fall will begin taking over an Aurora elementary school that has failed to improve despite several attempts.
The school board’s unanimous approval Friday of the move is a major win for Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn’s school improvement agenda and represents a significant shift for a school district once known for not embracing charter schools.
“We believe that converting Fletcher Community School into a charter school is in the best interest of our students and families,” Munn said in a statement. “We are excited that our Board of Education voted to approve Rocky Mountain Prep’s charter application.”
The Rocky Mountain Prep charter school network will begin operating a preschool at Fletcher this fall. Each school year after, the charter will add a grade level. Meanwhile, the district will continue to run its program under new leadership in the grades not being served by Rocky Mountain Prep. The district will also maintain a program for students with autism at the school.
Munn’s proposal was not without critics. Teachers at Fletcher launched a social media campaign and spoke out at school board meetings. They asked for one more chance under new leadership. Some school board members also raised concerns over the rushed process.
Charter schools applications and contracts normally are vetted for a year. Munn first proposed Rocky Mountain Prep takeover Fletcher this spring, giving the district and board three months.
At the board’s June 21 meeting, board member Cathy Wildman opposed Rocky Mountain Prep’s charter application because she believed the Munn’s administration did not engage the community well enough.
Wildman said she voted for the contract Friday because she believes some of her concerns, especially about how Rocky Mountain Prep will serve the neighborhood’s students, were addressed.
“I did ultimately vote yes (for the contract), but I’m going to watch this very carefully,” she said. “I want Rocky Mountain Prep — if they’re going to work with our kids — to be successful.”