The Schools of Choice Office’s primary role is to support the continued expansion of quality choices for Colorado families.
The Office does this through the following activities.
- The Office manages the federal charter school program (CSP) grant. This is a grant that provides start-up funds to new charter schools in their planning year and first two years of operation.
- The Office provides a wide range of technical assistance to people in a variety of roles with charter schools including:
- School leaders
- Charter school board members
- Business managers
- Authorizers: Charter School Institute or district staff in the position of being charter school liaison.
- The Office works across units and departments here at CDE to gather and disseminate best practices, tools and resources to the charter and innovation school sector.
- The Office provides basic information to families about how to engage in homeschool agreements with their district.
Innovation schools also fall under the Schools of Choice Office. The Innovation Schools Act provides a pathway for schools and districts to develop innovative practices, better meet the needs of individual students and allow more autonomy to make decisions at the school-level. The Act allows a public school or group of public schools to submit an innovation plan to its local board of education. The plan is designed to increase student outcomes at the school(s). Once approved, school district boards of education must submit the innovation plans and waiver requests to the Colorado State Board of Education for approval.
The Schools of Choice Office provides support and information to boards, districts, schools, and individuals about the benefit and process to receive innovation designation. This office strives to identify districts and schools that could benefit from innovation status and works with districts to review the innovation plans before they are submitted to the State Board.
- Works with potential subgrantees to help them understand the grant program, determine eligibility and follow directions, guidelines and timelines for the grant
- Works with Grants Fiscal to ensure smooth operations of the grant program
- Works with approved subgrantees to ensure quality implementation of the grant and compliance with federal guidelines
- Develops the overall plan for technical assistance and training
- Provides training in technical assistance events and through school-by-school support
- Handles all logistics for the 40-50 events put on by this unit each year
- Is the first point of contact for inquiries re: charter schools, innovation school or other choice school questions
- Maintains strong relationships with non-governmental agencies that also work to increase the number of quality choices for Colorado families
- Supporting districts and the Charter School Institute as they work to implement the NACSA (National Association for Charter School Authorizing) standards, which were adopted by the board as guidelines
- Staff reviews innovation applications and coordinates additional review from CDE staff in areas such as: budget compliance, special education compliance, educator effectiveness and turnaround grant compliance
- Provide staff recommendations for the State Board about innovation applications submitted for State Board approval
- Conduct meetings and conversations with individuals to help them identify if innovation status is a good option for a district or school
- Collect innovation school data and produce and annual report on innovation schools by March 1st
- Supporting districts and the Charter School Institute as they work to implement the NACSA (National Association for Charter School Authorizing) standards, which were adopted by the board as guidelines.
- Supporting the turnaround effort internally and externally re: the role charters and innovation schools may play in school and district turnaround efforts.