Superintendent: Charter school splitting races
Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Fred Wall said Wednesday he’s worried too many Anglo students are enrolling at a new charter school, creating segregation in Carbondale elementary schools. Wall said he’s concerned that Anglo students are leaving the Crystal River Elementary School campuses in favor of Ross Montessori Charter School, creating student bodies at both schools that don’t represent the racial makeup of the community. According to the 2000 census, Carbondale is 32.1 percent Latino or Hispanic.The student body of both Crystal River Elementary School campuses combined was about 70 percent Hispanic or Latino in 2004, according to Colorado Department of Education statistics. Principal Karen Olson said the student body is between 70 and 80 percent Latino this school year. Ross Montessori administrator Mark Grice said his school – which formed this year after the public school district discontinued its Montessori program – is currently 18 percent Latino or Hispanic. The school has 135 students, 110 of whom are from Carbondale, in kindergarten through sixth grade, he said.What he called segregation “creates an artificial school situation,” Wall said, adding that district officials believe public school student populations should reflect the racial composition of their communities. He said the district is devising a marketing plan to attract Anglo students back to its schools in Carbondale. The district needs to advertise its schools’ outdoor education opportunities and other offerings that will be attractive to Anglo parents, Wall said. “I think it would be great if all the schools could be balanced to reflect the community,” Olson said, adding that the marketing effort is “something the district is doing, and I support that.”But Grice said Ross Montessori School, which plans to expand to include eighth grade within two years, is trying to attract as diverse a student population as possible. “We feel we’ve been unfairly painted in this issue,” he said. He said parents who send their children to the Montessori school are happy they have an option other than a mainstream school. The school is still accepting students and is open to students of any ethnicity. “We want any Latino family who wants to go here,” Grice said.
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