As a new charter school coming to Jefferson County, parents have been sending us questions based on things they have read online about Golden View Classical Academy and our charter application. We look forward to clarifying a few points and correcting some misinformation parents may encounter.
While we are continuing to revise and improve our program, our charter application as submitted to Jefferson County Public Schools is here (this file exceeds 4MB in size).
Our final contract with Jefferson County may be found here.
Q: Why is Golden View Classical Academy requesting waivers from state laws and district policies?
Charters are granted, by state law, waivers from state and local laws and policies to allow them autonomy on a number of issues, including staffing, curriculum, textbooks, facilities, governance, and operations. These waivers are the essence of what makes a charter school a charter school. The Colorado Department of Education automatically grants waivers from 23 different statutes. Read more about Colorado charter school waivers.
Golden View Classical Academy requested waivers as part of its charter application related to concerns around the school’s autonomy. These issues have been resolved through approved waivers or language in the charter contract with Jefferson County Schools.
Q: Is Golden View Classical hiring licensed teachers?
All Golden View Classical Academy teachers are highly-qualified.
Golden View Classical Academy will hire the most highly qualified teachers for our classrooms and seek out content experts.
After involved parents, it’s known that highly effective teachers, using an excellent, proven curriculum in the classroom, have the greatest impact on student success. Golden View Classical Academy seeks staff with expertise in their content area and the best teachers for each position may or may not be licensed teachers.
One of the automatic waivers granted charter schools by the Colorado Department of Education is a waiver from teacher licensure requirements (Colorado Revised Statutes 22-63-201), which most, if not all, charter schools in Colorado have. View a complete report of all waivers granted to charter schools throughout Colorado.
Rather than having licensed teachers, the state of Colorado allows charter schools to hire “highly-qualified” teachers. To earn this designation a teacher must have a college degree or other demonstrated expertise in a content area that person will be teaching. At the 6th grade level and below, a teacher may take a placement test. Details on the “highly-qualified” qualification is found on the CDE website.
This waiver allows Golden View Classical to hire a teacher with a master’s degree in Chemistry, to teach science, or a retired college English literature professor to teach high school English. Liberty Common School in Ft Collins, the school that recently set the all-time ACT record in Colorado this past year, does not have a single “licensed” teacher.
Q: Who started and will govern Golden View Classical Academy?
Golden View Classical Academy is a grassroots school, started by a group of local parents, and a grandparent, wanting more high-quality options for JeffCo kids, including their own. Several of these parents are now founding board members and responsible for the governance of the organization. Detailed information on the board’s governance role is found on page 86 of the charter application.
Q: Is there an outside management company running the school?
No, Golden View Classical Academy does not have an outside management group and is completely run by a local board of directors, who have complete decision making authority and responsibility. Any charter school with outside management must include a “Section S” with their charter application, which we do not have.
Q: How Does Hillsdale College Help Golden View Classical Academy?
The Golden View Classical Academy relationship with Hillsdale College is a win-win for the school and Jefferson County.
Golden View Classical Academy is replicating existing, highly successful schools in Colorado. Five of the Top 10 High Schools in Colorado are: Ridgeview Classical Schools, Liberty Common School, D’Evelyn High School, Vanguard Classical Academy (Colorado Springs), and Thomas MacLaren. All these schools are liberal arts schools.
Rather than starting from ground zero to recreate these schools from scratch, our local group of parent initiated a partnership with Hillsdale College, a non-profit, non-religious, liberal arts college, and their Barney Charter School Initiative. The Barney Charter School Initiative is a program that is replicating Colorado’s Ridgeview Classical School model, which is also very similar to Liberty Common and Vanguard Classical Academy.
Hillsdale College is a national leader in liberal arts education and has provided help to K-12 schools across the country to create high-quality classical, liberal arts programs.
Mentorship and Experience
While Golden View Classical is working directly with people involved in Ridgeview Classical, Liberty Common, and D’Evelyn, Hillsdale brings additional mentorship and experience to the table to help our team ensure we are building a high-quality school. This reduces the risk to JeffCo by providing the Golden View Classical Academy Board more guidance and advice to facilitate our implementing a top-notch program and establishing our culture.
Help Identifying a Great School Leader
In addition to Golden View Classical’s own efforts, Hillsdale helped conduct a nation-wide search and screening for a school leader with the skills and background to run a K-12 classical, liberal arts charter school. The Golden View Classical Academy Board of Directors is responsible for interviewing and hiring the school leader (see the charter application, p. 94).
Dr Robert Garrow, the Principal of Golden View Classical Academy, came to the attention of the Golden View Classical Academy founders through a Hillsdale connection.
Teacher Professional Development
In August 2015, a team of professors and staff from Hillsdale College came to Golden View Classical Academy for two weeks to conduct our initial teacher training. The team from Hillsdale provided workshops on Core Knowledge, Riggs phonics, Singapore math, classical education philosophy, and other topics critical for success in the classroom. This is in addition to the professional development Golden View Classical Academy staff conducts among itself.
In subsequent years, Hillsdale College will assist Golden View Classical Academy with professional development for its staff at its annual training program in Michigan, with other teachers from across the United States. This allows our teachers to receive high quality training from college-level instructors with experience in the liberal arts and classical education, while also having the opportunity to network and connect with teachers from other classical, liberal arts charter schools.
The professional development provided by Hillsdale College is conducted at no cost to Golden View Classical Academy.
Q: Is Golden View Classical Academy a religious school?
Golden View Classical Academy is a non-sectarian, non-religious public charter school, as required by law, and will operate as such in all respects as specified on page 87 of our charter application and our charter contract with Jefferson County Schools.
Q: Why does JeffCo need a liberal arts, Core Knowledge K-12 charter school?
As mentioned, half of the top 10 High Schools in Colorado are liberal arts schools. The top STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) schools in Colorado are also liberal arts schools.
The premier liberal arts school in JeffCo, D’Evelyn Jr/Sr High, constantly carries a long waiting list, as does its feeder school, Dennison Elementary. Traditional schools with a fundamental, liberal arts approach are in high demand in Jefferson County.
Golden View Classical Academy opened in September 2015 with 496 students in grades K-10 and wait lists for many grades, clearly demonstrating a demand for more great options in our community.
In 2014, the JeffCo Schools Choice Committee identified a need for a Core Knowledge school in central JeffCo, the area we now serve. This was in addition to recognizing a need for more liberal arts programs in JeffCo.
Another recent report from the JeffCo Schools staff also identified an URGENT need for additional student seats to handle current demand and projected growth from Solterra and new developments along Highway 93 and Indiana.