Once the neighbors found out what was going on, they got organized. Approximately 900 homes surround the site, and their occupants wasted no time in inundating city officials, school-board members and state legislators with letters and phone calls. One of the recipients was Senator Sue Windels of Arvada, who had pushed to assemble an interim legislative committee to study charter schools this summer. Her effort failed for lack of funding, but she plans to try again next session.
"We've had charter schools for ten years now, and it's always good to take a comprehensive look and see where we are. Are they effective academically? Is there adequate accountability? Do they have a negative impact on traditional schools? We have no answers to those questions," Windels says.
School daze: Craig West, president of the Lakecrest
Cape Homeowners Association.
One thing that's become apparent is that charter schools are no longer content to make do with less. "When charter schools first started, the founders were so excited to have a school that they were willing to be in substandard facilities. But there's another generation that's come in and said, 'Now it's time to be on comparable footing with other schools,'" says the state education department's Mund.
That's exactly what Corash is asking of Arvada. Just before the recent community meeting at the church, Corash submitted a site plan to the city, which has thirty days to either approve or deny it.
"The last thing we wanted to do was go in and raise the ire of a community," Corash explains. "We don't disagree with what the neighbors are saying. We're just caught in the middle."