Last Thursday, the Denver Public School board voted unanimously to approve a one-year renewal of Skyland Community High School, the Big Picture charter school located in the former Cole Middle School building first written about here. It was a down-to-the-wire decision, with one committee recommending that the school be shut down because of sub-standard CSAP scores and another recommending it stay open to further see out the changes implemented by first-year principal Arthur Baraf, changes that have indicated an upward swing in test-scores amongst the Skyland students.
"It was definitely affirming of all the hard work we've done to be unanimously endorsed by the board," says Baraf. "There were no further restrictions either, they did not ask us to change a thing. They just want us to keep doing what we are doing and they'll see the results of our CSAP scores from this year, which we take in a few weeks. It's a vote of confidence that we're doing a good job and that we've made a lot of gains."
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Other schools did not fare so well. P.S.1 narrowly slid by with a renewal of their charter, while the Life Skills Center did not receive renewal; and unless a long-shot appeal to the Colorado Board of Education overturns the decision, the school will close down this summer. It's a grim reminder of the looming fate imminently possible for any Denver charter schools.
"We still have a lot of work to do and we need to keep making adjustments and proving our message," Baraf comments. "We want to be among the top schools in the next five years. The reward for our hard work is more hard work."
And now they'll have at least another school year to do it.
-- Adam Cayton-Holland