In the wake of D-51 announcing the closure of “east middle school,” and possibly two *other schools, we’ve learned a new grand valley charter school is slated to open by next fall. Local investigative reporter Anne landman wrote about it in her blog.

D51’s School Board had Ascent academy on the docket in May of 2022, now it’s slated to open at the end of this year. Ascent Classical Academy just closed on the 7-million-dollar property that formerly housed Rocky Mountain Gun Club.

D-51 won’t run ascent, but it managed to get up and running when D-51 with the support of some parents, handed its authorization over to the state’s Charter School Institute much like it did with Caprock Academy. 

The school must meet the same state standards that public schools do, but there are differences.  Some charter schools get waivers–meaning some state standards simply don’t apply.   Having the right to pick their own hours, which hours teachers may contact students–even, like caprock, the ability to hire teachers who are not licensed.

Bill Kottenstette, with the Department of Education, told me any charter school approved must be secular but can contract religious institutions like ascent contracts Hillsdale College, which is Christian based.

Ascent adds another educational option for local students and parents but will also pull critical students and funding from the already dwindling number enrolled in D-51.

Ascent Academy has several Colorado locations although Durango and boulder school boards recently rejected ascent’s application over concerns it would not ensure equal opportunity based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. And that Hillsdale College which provides ascent’s curriculum is not tailored to the cities themselves.