Natrona County School Board Denies Guild Charter School Again
The Natrona County School District's board of trustees again shot down a proposal for the creation of the alternative Guild Charter School at their meeting Monday.
The Guild's 1,100-page application was 98 percent the same as last year, and trustees said the few changes in the new version were not enough to change their decision from last year.
"Nothing in the 2 percent has changed my mind," board Chairman Kevin Christopherson said.
The Guild Charter School co-founders wrote they wanted it to offer a classical education with individualized learning plans, challenging curriculum and other programs for students from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Its advocates credited the school district for offering many of the programs the Guild wants to offer, but the Guild wanted to put them under one roof.
Co-founders presented the new application in August, and criticized trustees for not carefully reviewing last year's proposal and urged them to read the application before making their decision.
The accusation of indifference didn't go over well with the trustees.
Nor did the trustees like the application's inability to meet state law requirements that school districts evaluate a proposed charter school in light of community and parental support, whether it would offer programs different from what the district already has. and whether it had a solid administrative and financial foundation.
Toni Billings and other trustees said the new proposal didn't meet those requirements. The school -- which would operate independently of NCSD oversight -- added only seven students more than were registered a year ago, it didn't have much parental and community support, it proposed an unrealistic budget, and its administrative structure would require substantial help from the school district.
"Nor do I believe they are able to operate independently of the Natrona County School District Number One, nor successfully deliver what they have proposed," Billings said.
Trustee Dana Howie said the proposal essentially copied the budget of the Snowy Range Academy Public Charter School in Laramie without taking into account the differences between Albany and Natrona counties.
"You have grossly underestimated your budget," Howie said. "I don't think you know what you're getting into."
Paula Reid based her decision on her 38 years in banking, she said. The Guild's proposed budget would not pass muster for obtaining a commercial loan, she said.
Many trustees also resented Guild co-founders' insinuations that they did not perform their due diligence in reviewing the application.
After the board of trustees unanimously voted to deny the application, Guild co-founder Tiffany Teary said she won't appeal the decision to the State Board of Education like she did last year.
The trustees didn't treat her well, and she won't go through that experience again, Leary said.
"I'm only so strong," she said. "I can't take any more of the slaps and the hatefulness. They say we didn't play fair or play nice.... It felt very adversarial, very combative, almost."