State grants Montessori school $450,000 for start-up expenses | AspenTimes.com

State grants Montessori school $450,000 for start-up expenses

Naomi Havlen

A new Montessori school in Carbondale received a $450,000 grant Wednesday from the State Board of Education for start-up costs.Ross Montessori School, formed after the Roaring Fork School District decided to disband its Montessori program in Carbondale Elementary School, will use the money over the next three years for computers, a library, classroom supplies and staff development. The school’s charter was approved by a state board earlier this month.”We’ve covered all the basics,” said the school’s spokeswoman, Carolyn Fisher. “It’s critical that we have all of these things like a library, computers and services for our staff. This is essential money.”Fisher notes that the school will always be writing grants and holding fund-raisers to cover additional expenses like playground equipment. Organizers are currently in final negotiations on two undisclosed properties in downtown Carbondale where they can place their school building – a modular structure, she said.”The classroom setup is one building that will have eight classrooms and offices – it’s going to be great,” she said.The public school will serve 168 students in the 2005-06 school year, and enrollment begins April 4.”Although we had enough per-pupil funding to open and operate the school, this grant will enable us to enrich each student’s educational experience,” said Maureen Rothman, a Montessori steering committee member and co-author of the grant.Although the school is in its infancy, it’s already had its fair share of controversy. The school district decided to discontinue its Montessori education in Carbondale Elementary School earlier this year, saying that the majority Anglo program caused ethnic segregation at the predominantly Latino school.Some district and town officials have said the new Montessori school may mean Anglo parents will withdraw their children from Carbondale Elementary.While 60 percent of Carbondale Elementary is Latino, the Montessori program is 64 percent Anglo.Randy DeHoff, the executive director of the State Chartering Institute, which approved the new school, told The Aspen Times last week that the school will reflect the town’s demographics. Ethnic outreach programs by the school’s steering committee helped the application for the charter, he said.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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