Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) may be one step closer to distancing itself from the Adams 12 Five Star School district after the district school board waived its right to retain an exclusive charter to the state’s largest K-12 online school.
The Adams 12 school board unanimously approved the waiver during its Sept. 9 meeting in a move that would allow the school to continue the charter application process with the state’s Charter School Institute. Its current five-year Adams 12 charter is set to expire on June 30, 2013.
Mary Gifford, the regional vice president at Virginia-based K-12 Inc., which manages the Colorado Virtual Academy, said in an e-mail that “the COVA board is keeping both options open” by continuing the charter application process with both Adams 12 and the Charter School Institute.
She said the COVA board provided notice to the Adams 12 school board on Sept. 4 that it will continue to seek a charter renewal with the district.
Gifford said joining the Charter School Institute may be a good fit for COVA, since it has experience in assisting other online public schools, including Provost Academy Colorado, Pinnacle Online High School, and Colorado Calvert Academy. Gifford said the transition would also provide new opportunities for the school to build on its rapidly increasing enrollment and address academic program changes that accompany it.
Adams 12 Superintendent Chris Gdowski said he was primarily in favor of the decision, because only about 250 of the school’s 5,000 students live within the Adams 12 school district.
“We have a whole lot of important work to do that is much better for kids within our boundary — that should be our focus,” Gdowski said. “We’re not experts in online-only instructional delivery, so we probably can’t help them approve their practices quite as much as CSI might, where they have a lot of online only schools that are a part of their portfolio.”
He also said COVA has had a “tremendous drag on the school district’s performance,” based on the most recent set of Transitional Colorado Assessment Program results that highlight a mixture of shortfalls and achievements in several subject areas. Gdowski also said the school’s 22 percent graduation rate is also “very concerning” compared to the school district’s noncharter 73.9 percent graduation rate last year.
In an undated prepared statement, the COVA board of directors said the school’s graduation rate was impacted by recently enrolled students who were behind on credits. While some of these students graduated at least a year later, the board said posted graduation rates do not reflect these considerations.
“The COVA board is committed to serving any family that chooses to enroll its child in our school, even if that child is academically at-risk, with the full understanding that doing so may impact the school’s overall results,” the statement read in part.
Adams 12 District School Improvement Team member Vince Fresquez suggested the school be placed on a contract with strict turnaround stipulations.
“I don’t see the actual benefit except for immediate change in our performance numbers,” Fresquez said. “I would rather us take control of the situation and try to drive better performance — that would be much more of a win-win.”