Gantz Berman was the only state boardmember to side with DPS in Monarch's appeal. But other members cautioned that the Montessori school had a tough road ahead, considering the shortened timeline.

"I think it would be an almost incomparable hurdle to open this fall," said state boardmember Marcia Neal.

******

Radkiewicz walks up and down East 48th Avenue in the Montbello neighborhood, a quiet street lined with split-level homes and yards of varying shades of brown and green. It's a sunny Sunday afternoon, and the heat is beginning to make her hands sweat, crinkling the fliers and brochures she's carrying. "The last time I did this was for Obama," she says.

She avoids a house with a prominent "Beware of Dog" sign, but otherwise rings every doorbell on the block. Everyone who answers is either African-American or Latino; Radkiewicz is white. At one house, a middle-aged African-American woman explains that she's just retired from a charter school. Though she has no kids of her own, she promises to spread the word. An elderly woman in an apron says she'll pass the flier to her great-grandchild. At another house, a young girl cracks the door open just enough to peek out at the strange woman on her doorstep. In one hand, she holds a Wii controller.

"We're opening a charter school in the old Samsonite building," Radkiewicz says. "Can I give you a brochure?" The girl nods. "Do you speak Spanish?" The girl nods again. "It's in Spanish," Radkiewicz says, proudly flipping the brochure to the Spanish side.

Farther down the block, Radkiewicz comes upon two men and a woman sitting on a porch. Loud rap music — Dr. Dre and Eminem — blasts from inside the house. She approaches them, brochure in hand. "Kindergarten, first and second grade?" asks one man after listening to Radkiewicz's explanation. "I don't have no kids that little."

At the end of an hour and a half, Radkiewicz is out of English-language fliers and decides to call it quits. Though there were no magical moments, no super-interested parents who promised to come on a tour, she figures it's progress. Her door-to-door is part of a bigger campaign that includes lawn signs and a giant banner on the school's building that's visible from I-70, where Monarch hopes it'll catch the eye of parents stuck in traffic.

Howarth, who's leading the effort, is crossing her fingers. From the moment she walked into the school on a tour last spring, she knew it was something special. "There's such a sense of calm in the school," she says. "It's full of kids, but it's so quiet."

And the growth she's seen in her daughters since they enrolled in August has been nothing short of phenomenal. Her five-year-old went from recognizing letters to reading in three months. "Now the sentences she can read are crazy," Howarth says. "By the end of the school year, she should be reading chapter books." Even more impressive are her daughter's math skills: "The one I'm blown away by is four-digit addition."

So Howarth puts in long hours, organizing supporters to pound the pavement, man booths at farmers' markets and make calls to parents who've expressed interest, all in the hopes of hitting that 102-student mark before April 20. As of Monday, the school had seventy students. It's a seemingly impossible deadline.

But Howarth is hopeful. As she works toward meeting DPS's lofty enrollment goal, a recurring thought about her four-digit-adding, chapter-book-reading five-year-old, Ella, runs through her mind: "If she's lucky enough to have Montessori for her entire elementary career," Howarth says, "what is she going to be capable of?"

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10 comments
Krcurran
Krcurran

It is deplorable that Ms. Kaplan would "sacrifice" a much-needed school in the Far Northeast just to thumb her nose at the State. So much for responsible leadership.

greg
greg

After reading how Jeannie Kaplan has 'taught us all a lesson' with the second of her votes cast. I was 'taught' that school board members run, get elected and work as advocates for the parents and children in their district. I now see that I'm 'misguided'. Ms. Kaplan's role as a school board member is to, from her bully pulpit, stomp her feet, shake her head side to side and because she was so put off that she switched her vote the second time around in order to send a message to the state. Ms Kaplan chose to act like a 'child'. But then, she isn't on the school board to help parents and their children in her school district. Ms Kaplan is on her local school board to show us all that no one... will challenge her self anointed, superior intellect when it is her job to... change her mind. Always for the best reason... of course.

greg
greg

Jeannie Kaplan

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kristin norris
kristin norris

Amazing! Does DPS really think they are that entitled!

M.B.
M.B.

Kristen of course they are entitled. If you were to say anything against them they Punish. And you thought the only bullies are on the PLAY GROUND. The worst ones are at 900 Grant Street disguised as people who want "What's best for Kids". I know many teachers forced out of teaching not because they were bad teachers but because they had a brain. Weak management never wants a smart work force.

 
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