CHARTER. Welcome. The best way to predict. the future is to invent it.

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1 CHARTER issue 1 / September 2010 A Quarterly Journal for Charter School Business Managers Upcoming Events Colorado Charter Schools Board Retreat October 22-23, 2010 Breckenridge, CO Information and Registration: The Colorado Charter Schools Board Retreat is a great opportunity for new and experienced board members to grow and expand their capacity as charter school leaders through breakout sessions, networking and facilitation work sessions. Business Managers Network Meeting Hosted by: Colorado Dept of Education November 19, :30am 3:00pm Location: TBD RSVP: Business Manager Network Meetings provide the most current and practical, experience-based technical information on topics pertinent to the business management of charter schools. For a full community calendar of events and professional development opportunities, visit In This Issue Upcoming Events Welcome Disruptive Innovations The Art of Community Over Reach at University Prep An Odyssey of Charter School Marketing Meet Tiffany Kallevik Sustainable School Facilities Attract Parents, Students, and Faculty Group Purchasing Program Enrollment and Your School Life Cycle Choice Enrollment: Challenges and Opportunities Colorado League of Charter Schools Vendor Guide Creative Enrollment Strategies High Performance Facilities Projecting and Meeting Enrollment Numbers Insurance Considerations Welcome Welcome to the inaugural edition of Charter Focus. This journal for charter school business managers will be published each quarter by the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Each issue will focus on a topic of critical importance to charter school business managers. This quarter, we feature articles about how to increase charter school enrollment. You will find some incredible best practices from those who know this topic best your peers and colleagues. We think you will find the tips in these articles extremely valuable and hope you will keep this newsletter and refer back to it throughout the school year. Charter B y S e n at o r K e i t h K i n g Disruptive Innovations With charter schools now being open in Colorado for over 15 years, I think it is time to reassess how schools can continue to attract students. I have been involved in starting three charter schools in the Pikes Peak region: Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy, James Irwin Charter High School and Colorado Springs Early Colleges. Each, at the time, was innovative and unique. However, every charter school struggles to stay on the cutting edge and deliver the best education it can for its students. Alan Kay aptly stated, The best way to predict the future is to invent it. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Check your mission statement and see if it is still accomplishing what you set out to achieve. A great book to read about driving your mission is: The Innovator s Solution by Clayton Christensen, a professor at the Focus also includes information about the League s Group Purchasing Program and Vendor Guide which can help your school find high-quality, cost effective products and services. If you have any comments about Charter Focus, or if you d like to submit an article for a future edition, please contact Tiffany Kallevik at , ext. 116 or Your feedback and submissions will help make Charter Focus an even more valuable resource and avenue to share best practices with other charter school business managers. Harvard Business School. In the book he talks about disruptive innovations that forever change the market place and drive others to follow. Charter schools have been, and must continue to be, that disruptive innovation to public education, or they lose their opportunity to enroll students. Our educational product must provide a better education for students than what they can receive in a regular public school. It is a journey that never stops. Once we are satisfied with our innovation, we are no longer disruptive. The enrollment of your schools will indicate to you how willing you are to take on the challenge of shaping the future. Produce something powerful and significant. After all, what better way to impact the future than to build it one student at a time at your school? Senator Keith King is the Treasurer of the Colorado League of Charter Schools Board of Directors and the Administrator of Colorado Springs Early Colleges (www.csec914.org). Issue 1 / September 2010 Charter Focus 1

2 B y D av i d S i n g e r The Art of Community Over Reach at University Prep How you do outreach is directly tied to who you intend to serve. As a result, we ve run two BOOTS ON THE GROUND neighborhood canvassing events with over 100 volunteers engaging in well over 1,000 conversations about our school. There is nothing more effective to reaching the most disengaged audience than knocking on doors. Four hundred and seventy five (475) families representing over 675 children in our community completed intent to enroll forms more than one year in advance of our school s opening. We don t claim to be experts in student enrollment, as the challenging work of converting interest into action lies ahead. However, we do believe our founding team has done a tremendous job of spreading the word to our target student population, creating a buzz both within the northeast Denver neighborhoods we intend to serve, and the city at large. Simplify the mission of your school as much as possible and pull out the key elements that define your organization. The 7 0 unanimous decision we received from the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education is evidence of the strength in numbers, and the powerful role that community outreach and engagement plays in not only gaining the charter itself, but successfully launching the school. Like everything else in the world of urban education reform, there is no silver bullet to building an army of supporters it simply takes a strategic plan, hard work, and resilience. How do you do it? Identify your target population How you do outreach is directly tied to who you intend to serve. Our school s mission is to eliminate the achievement gap and ensure every child is prepared for a four year college degree. Our student population is predominantly low-income and comes from challenging backgrounds. This influences our plan for outreach and engagement. Stay on message Whether it s the school leader speaking with a family or a volunteer who s with you for a day of canvassing, everyone has to have the same message. Simplify the mission of your school as much as possible and pull out the key elements that define your organization. Everyone can articulate three key ideas when they re concrete and concise. Meet everyone and anyone During some of the most intense weeks of our community outreach efforts we have had nearly 40 meetings in a week. In the early stages of development, there is nothing more critical than building relationships with the organizations and individuals within the community you intend to serve. Don t expect anyone to come to you; go to them As many information sessions as we ve held at early childhood providers, churches, public libraries, etc. we know that there is a population of families that we will not engage if we don t go to them. Home visits It s never too early to start building relationships with the families you ll be serving. Scheduling home visits is a tremendous way for families to learn more about your school and for you to learn more about their wants and needs for their children. It also builds trust in the relationship you ll be developing as their child attends your school. Schools in start up have a tremendous opportunity to personalize their outreach in this fashion. Don t just reach out, over reach Once you have a substantial list of interested families and you begin to run events or request attendance, i.e. showing up at a public presentation to the school board, celebration dinners, orientations, etc. it is essential that you have multiple touch points with your families. One phone call or one invitation by mail is insufficient. Think about each touch point as getting closer to guaranteeing attendance , postcard, phone call, reminder call, etc. Providing transportation for families who need it is another way to help ensure attendance and build trust. At the end of the day, a start-up school is like any other new for-profit or not-for-profit organization. You are building a brand from scratch. It takes time, endless energy, and a relentless push. David Singer is the Lead Founder and Head of School at University Preparatory School, a new K-5 charter opening in Near Northeast Denver in August 2011 (www.uprepschool.org). 2 Charter Focus Issue 1 / September 2010

3 B y E l k i N e i b e r g e r An Odyssey of Charter School Marketing The Odyssey School opened its doors in the fall of 1998 with 2 classrooms and 48 students. The school is now at full capacity with 225 students in Kindergarten through 8th grades. Over the years we ve implemented many strategies to meet our enrollment numbers. Our primary and best strategy is word of mouth. Our families are our best advertisement. We have monthly open houses, which we advertise on our website and in the local neighborhood newspaper. We ask all families that want to apply to attend an open house. At each event, our Executive Director gives a PowerPoint presentation and a tour of the school. A well executed open house is powerful. Families that attend these events help spread the word about our school. Our second best marketing tool we use is our website. A well-designed and aesthetic website is a must! Second to talking to friends, most parents start on the internet when searching for schools. Attending your district s school fair is also very helpful. Each year the Denver Public Schools (DPS) event brings in hundreds of families looking for options. It s another great opportunity to meet families in person and sell your school. It s helpful to have a colorful booth with brochures and student work. The second best marketing tool we use is our website. A well designed and aesthetic website is a must! In the early years we also did mailings and attended many local neighborhood fairs. Now that we ve been around for 12 years and have established a strong reputation, these three strategies bring in more than enough applicants. Today, The Odyssey School is fortunate to have a steady enrollment and waitlists for every grade. Elki Neiberger is the Enrollment Director at The Odyssey School, a K-8 charter in the Stapleton neighborhood in Denver (www.odysseydenver.org). Meet Tiffany Kallevik Member Business Services Associate Editor of Charter Focus phone ext 116 Tiffany Kallevik joined the League in April as its Member Business Services Associate. She assists in offering our member schools access to cost-effective, quality products and services through the League s group purchasing program and vendor guide. Tiffany has been getting to know Colorado s charter school leaders and educating them about how they can reap significant cost savings through the League s Member Business Services programs. Tiffany hopes to visit all of the League s member schools this year, however if you d like to talk with her sooner feel free to call her or her with your feedback and suggestions. PARTNERS IS ACCOUNTING THROWING YOUR CHARTER OFF-COURSE? NFP Partners is a specialized accounting firm, providing flexible and collaborative accounting solutions to Colorado charter schools Please contact us for a free initial consultation: NFP Partners One size does not fit all: We evaluate your needs, taking size, budget, and internal resources into consideration. Larger charter schools: We implement specialized financial management software. Smaller charter schools: We offer outsourced accounting services on a collaborative basis. You perform daily tasks using our online software, while we supply the training, oversight and reporting. WE WILL GET YOU BACK ON TRACK Issue 1 / September 2010 Charter Focus 3

4 B y J o h n P i t t m a n Sustainable School Facilities Attract Parents, Students, and Faculty To build with a sustainable design philosophy requires a balance between environmental impact, life cycle costs, material availability and overall cost. Sustainable building design and construction allows schools to boost student enrollment by attracting parents and top-quality faculty who believe in the importance of sustainable facilities. Teachers appreciate the sustainable design because the facility serves as a teaching tool for faculty and a learning tool for students. Parents appreciate the sustainable design because it represents the values many parents are living and teaching their children today. School buildings serve multiple functions nowadays. They are used for before- and after-school activities, as well as community meetings and a variety of school events. Students, parents and faculty reside inside the facilities for long hours. Access to natural daylighting, outside air and being in a comfortable environment is a priority for users and for the facility builders. All building users appreciate a state-of-theart, clean and sustainable facility that s conducive to learning and entertainment, and reduces its impact on our environment. Fransen Pittman, a sustainable builder, recently completed construction for the Rangeview Library District s Brighton Library, which is the first carbon positive library in the country, and serves its community with many educational and meeting spaces. To build with a sustainable design philosophy requires a balance between environmental impact, life cycle costs, material availability and overall cost. For all projects, LEED-accredited experts are a must because they recognize the value and importance of sustainable design and construction practices. Today, schools can afford to build facilities that were out of reach two years ago. Additionally, sustainable building costs are becoming more affordable as sustainable building becomes more mainstream. Schools should be constructed to meet the multiple goals of function, resource efficiency and environmental soundness. A well-constructed facility provides more than just a physical structure it portrays a school s core values and can be utilized as a tool to increase enrollment. John Pittman is President of Fransen Pittman General Contractors (www.fransenpittman.com). Pictured above: Academy Charter School Proud to be a part of Colorado's CHARTER SCHOOL growth 23 Inverness Way East, Suite 250 Englewood, Colorado / Fax 303/ fransenpittman.com 4 Charter Focus Issue 1 / September 2010

5 Group Purchasing Program The Colorado League of Charter Schools offers an exclusive Group Purchasing Program (GPP) to help its members reduce costs through collaborative purchasing strategies. The GPP provides member schools with access to quality products and services at significant cost savings. Members benefit from the League s exhaustive due diligence process and aggressive negotiations that secure contracts with highly favorable terms and conditions for collective buying power. All of the League s purchasing contracts are competitively and publicly bid to provide member schools with the highest quality products and services at the lowest cost available in the market. When it s time to make a purchase, simply contact one of the following vendors. Office/Classroom Supplies and Furniture Staples is committed to making it easy to buy office products, including supplies, technology, furniture and business services. Staples is focused on providing League members the highest level of quality products, service and dedication. Staples Business Advantage offers League members: Free next-day shipping on office and classroom supplies. Flexible core lists with an average 81% savings and continual 30-day reviews. entire office and classroom supply catalogs discounted at 20%-85% with average savings of 55%. Customized Colorado League of Charter Schools web portal (www.staplesadvantage.com/clcs). New Schools/New Building Program for developing and expanding charter schools. Contact: Kristen Oskvarek Staples Business Advantage (719) Audio/Visual Equipment Since 1990, CCS Presentation Systems (CCS) has expanded from a single sales representative into one of the world s largest dealers of presentation technology equipment and services. With offices across the nation, CCS has emerged as the preferred supplier to the corporate, education, government and non-profit markets. CCS offers League members: exclusive pricing on AV equipment such as: SMART boards, LCD projectors, document cameras, classroom voting systems and more. Average savings of 30%. Free product orientation and training by a certified SMART trainer/m.ed. Discounts on installation and service. Contact: James Okada CCS Presentation Systems (303) x522 Office/Classroom Supplies and Furniture School Specialty is forging an exciting era in the educational resources market as a family of brands focused on helping educators help students succeed. School Specialty offers League members: 30% discount off in-stock supplies on pages in the School Specialty Master Catalog. 25% discount off in-stock supplies on pages in the School Specialty Master Catalog. 20% discount off all additional items in the current catalog. Additional furniture discounts of up to 67% by vendor. Free shipping on in-stock items. Customized League web portal. Contact: Martha Story School Specialty (720) Employee Benefit Plans HUB International is a leading North American insurance brokerage that provides a broad array of property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, reinsurance, investment and risk management products and services throughout offices located in the United States and Canada. HUB International offers League members: Customized solutions for employee benefit plans and insurance. Assistance in reviewing, creating or updating employee handbooks. Assistance in developing job descriptions for hiring practices and disciplinary action. Assistance in implementing ADA policies and procedures. Assistance in complying with National Healthcare Reform changes. Compliance with I-9 practices. Contact: Gary Clark HUB International Insurance Services (303) BIG NEWS! Several Group Purchasing contracts are currently being negotiated in the following service areas: Renewal: technology Products and Services to be awarded September 17. Renewal: AV Equipment and Services to be awarded September 24. NEW! payroll Processing Products and Services to be awarded November 5. NEW! Copier Products and Services to be awarded November 12. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about our provider selections. To participate in evaluating prospective suppliers, send your contact information to Issue 1 / September 2010 Charter Focus 5

6 B y D o u g H e r i n g, P h. D. Enrollment and Your School Life Cycle Charter schools often ask for advice on forecasting enrollment. The motives differ depending on where a school sits in its life cycle. Startup schools ask the question because they may not have good market information yet. Growing schools ask because they are looking at buying or building a new facility. Mature schools ask because sometimes they have begun to experience greater attrition or they are considering the addition of a middle or high school. The answers don t come easily, but I take the approach that a conservative number almost always fares better than a risky one, realizing that the number for a startup includes even more uncertainty than one for an existing school. New and Expanding Schools First, examine the market around you. Are there other charter schools nearby? Which ones have been successful? Are there similarities to your school? Have you done some surveying within the community? Do you know the area s needs and wants? Are you offering something that you know the local districts don t provide? Another crucial step, though not an exciting one, involves the need to review a budget to establish how many students are required to make your model work. Your school s educational model and facility will determine your breakeven budget and what you need to survive. The student number becomes your absolute minimum enrollment. You must then ask, is there justification for that minimum number and is it achievable? If attrition begins to increase, this could be an anomaly, but it could also be the beginning of a trend. You have to determine which one. One of the ongoing tensions of managing enrollment revolves around class size. If you limit class size, either voluntarily or by charter contract, this needs to be factored into your budget. Immediately, you must consider how big your class size can be while still allowing you to fulfill your promises to parents. If you can stretch your class size in a pinch or temporarily, you will increase your adaptability. It will make budgeting your early years much easier. It also provides flexibility for making adjustments during difficult economic periods. Mature Schools For the more mature school, there is rarely a need to ask many of the questions I ve listed because they ve already been answered. Instead, questions about enrollment should now be focused on making sure that programs are attracting new students every year and keeping students in the school. For this reason, mature schools should track their retention rates over time. If attrition begins to increase, this could be an anomaly, but it could also be the beginning of a trend. You have to determine which one. A school with increasing attrition should examine its program, analyze parents needs and students experiences. What might be causing the increase in attrition? Is the school s model still relevant to parents in the vicinity? Has the enthusiasm for the school dropped? Contingency Planning In all cases, every school at every stage of the life cycle should do some type of contingency planning. What if enrollment doesn t come in at expected rates? This is especially key for those schools in the startup or expansion phases. If you commit to a lease or a bond issue that is fixed, you have to know what you ll do if the enrollment Win a FREE Book Innovative Ideas for School Business Officers To enter, us your feedback about our debut Charter Focus Newsletter. Deadline: November 1, Tiffany at The Winner wil be announced in our next issue! by ASBO International 6 Charter Focus Issue 1 / September 2010

7 continued from page 6 doesn t come through as planned. Have you developed a marketing strategy? How effective is it? Have you decided if you will combine classrooms and grade levels if enrollment doesn t turn out? Is there a way to get out of the lease and obtain a smaller facility? If so, what lead time will you need to make that decision and move to the new location? Are their specials that can be cut? A contingency plan for enrollment doesn t have to be detailed initially, but it must contain enough information to allow the board and school administrator to make changes quickly. The big decisions must have already been made. For example, you don t have to know whether or not you ll trade off mailing newsletters for posting them on the web, but you do have to know if you will hire an assistant principal or combine classrooms, or eliminate specials. You have to know if you are going to try to renegotiate or get out of the existing lease. Those big decisions should be stated in your contingency plan. When a school determines that its waiting list and enrollment numbers are declining, leaders must put a plan into action quickly. Begin with determining the cause of decreasing enrollment. The school should conduct an exit survey for families that are leaving the school. In smaller schools, leaders may already know why families are leaving. Track this information, then explore your options. If you think your school operates the way it should and remains focused on its mission, then perhaps you should begin plans for a smaller school. Scrutinize attrition rates, make a projection for your school s size three years down the final alternative makes way for possible changes to your mission and vision that are both new and relevant to a wider audience, but still aligned with the founding dream. the road, then create a new strategic plan. Don t assume that things will pick up again without new efforts. They usually won t. The next alternative entails making changes to your program that will preserve the mission and vision of the school, yet create fresh ways to be relevant to the community. You need to rebuild enthusiasm. It might be time to revise your logo art. Make your school feel new again, without changing the dream. For declining enrollment, the final alternative makes way for possible changes to your mission and vision that are both new and relevant to a wider audience, but still aligned with the founding dream. For example, one reason that people could be leaving the school is that the founding dream was not communicated well or that the implementation of the dream was too narrow. Pursue ways to share the dream with a wider audience to gain enrollment without losing the intent of the dream. Enrollment issues can be a struggle for many schools during all stages of the life cycle. Know what stage you are in and make sure you are getting the answers to the right questions. Don t be afraid to ask parents, other charter school leaders, local business leaders, and whoever is appropriate to your model. Then tackle the tough task of creating a budget with the best projections that you can. You are looking into the future, so you won t be perfect, but you ll be better prepared from the focused effort that you put into it. Doug Hering is the Account Manager for Charter School Management Corporation, Inc. (www.csmci.com). WE TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF RUNNING A CHARTER SCHOOL (719) TOLL FREE CSMC Financial Services Compliance/Reporting Human Resources Purchasing Student Information Systems (SIS) 1155 KELLY JOHNSON BOULEVARD, SUITE 111, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO Issue 1 / September 2010 Charter Focus 7

8 B y J a m i I. B o a r m a n Choice Enrollment: Challenges and Opportunities Charter schools are no longer a hidden secret known only to an elite and educated few. We re moving into the mainstream, comprising 8.6% of K-12 public school enrollment in Colorado, and growing. With shifting enrollment, student needs are more broadly spread, increasing demand and decreasing resources. The enrollment challenges affect all charters, districts, and even our state legislatures as we endeavor to build the schools desired and needed in our communities while still being fiscally responsible and responsive. One difficulty with choice is that it becomes advantageous for parents to enroll their children in multiple schools and play the waiting game for the #1 school on their list to call. Enrollment has become a guessing game with so many parameters that it s difficult to determine the real numbers for the fall or the future. Still, as businesses, plan and prepare we must, through hiring, equipping and allotting space for an undetermined student enrollment. One difficulty with choice is that it becomes advantageous for parents to enroll their children in multiple schools and play the waiting game for the #1 school on their list to call. In essence, there is no fiscal incentive for parents to make a final decision until the last moment; making budget planning difficult until late August or early September. I mention fiscal incentive, because sadly, that is often what speaks the loudest in a final decision; but I m a glass half-full kind of girl, and I know that personal connection and relationship can help minimize the enrollment fluctuations inherent in school choice. By taking the time to communicate with clarity, a school s vision, values, and practice, we can urge parents to choose their school early and with confidence and commitment. Being transparent about who we are helps parents be up front about what they want. All parents want what is best for their children, and all school leaders strive to create the optimal learning environment. To succeed in the free market system of educational choice, we re going to need to learn to sing out our strengths and accomplishments to the masses. Somehow though, we schools are often a bit shy about this. We have the tendency to hold our community tightly in, almost like parents protecting children from the big real world. (There s a deeper analogy there, but that isn t the point of this article.) The point is that choice provides a great opportunity to lead educational transformation by partnering with parents in new and innovative ways. We should never receive a signed enrollment form and then sit back and wait for August to come. We must take control of our school s destiny and create a marketing plan that includes school culture development. By answering and responding to the question, What happens once people come in the door? we can build a commitment that lasts longer than the brick and mortar of neighborhood schools. Do we 1. provide opportunities for parents to observe our school s classrooms in action through scheduled tours? Principals should meet with parents to give a quick snapshot overview at each of these tours 15 minutes max. 2. Orient parents prior to the start of school about our philosophy, values, and practices? 3. Have systems for involving parents in meaningful ways throughout the school? This is a sort of if you build it, they will come, idea and it works. Also, have parents evaluate and tweak it yearly; it will grow into something wonderful. 4. Have deliberate shared leadership systems in which parents are actively involved in defining and realizing our school s objectives? Be fearless in partnering with your focus always on what is good for kids and what is good for your school. You ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. 5. Communicate our successes to the local media? I know our resources are lower than most, but having a solid system for reaching out in partnership with parents is a way to assure commitment early and continuing that commitment with personal connections that are heartfelt and strong. If we educate parents, we empower them, and if we involve them from the beginning, we ll have the commitment needed that can be measured by re-enrollment statistics. All of these ideas are ways that can transform education from the inside out, and they are as true for neighborhood schools as they are for charters. It s only step one though, because as I said earlier, choice enrollment is challenging the educational system and its schools in myriad ways. I think it s time we end the debate of whether choice is good or bad and move towards true dialogue with neighborhood schools, charter schools, and district and state leadership (with the gloves set aside) and dig deep into the details of these challenges. Through this, I believe we will find hidden, deep within our passionate drive for excellence, opportunities that will transform education in ways unseen. Jami I. Boarman is the Head of School at Free Horizon Montessori, a charter school serving Preschool through 6th grade in Golden (www.freehorizonmontessori.org). 8 Charter Focus Issue 1 / September 2010

9 Colorado League of Charter Schools Vendor Guide This directory is not an endorsement by the Colorado League of Charter Schools of any particular vendor, but rather an easily accessible source of vendors who support Colorado charter schools and want to help them succeed. We encourage you to support all of our participating vendors as you search for products and services. In choosing any vendor, the League recommends that schools refer to applicable policies on competitive bidding, check references, and contact the League if additional information is needed. America s Choice Stephen Sestina (720) AR7 Architects Steve Schonberger (303) Charter School Management Corporation, Inc. (CSMC) Doug Hering (719) CharterCHOICE Lindsey Friedman (303) CharterEd Technology Rob Protzman (970) Cherry Creek Insurance Agency Marc Grauberger (303) Childcare Marketplace Darrin Marks (503) Colorado Courseware Robert OHalloran (800) COLOTRUST Bruce Ely (303) CPO Science Jessie Herman (816) CSAFE Bob Krug (303) DAETC Marcia Canter (303) Delta Education Corinne Read (303) specialty.com Education Facility Solutions Dustin Jones (720) ETechCo, Inc. Rick Van Sickle (719) Focus EduVation Ryan Patenaude (781) Fransen Pittman General Contractors Jim Andrews (303) Frey Scientific Christina Valastro (303) Greystone Technology Group, Inc. - Denver David Stokes (303) Haynes Mechanical Systems Samuel Clough (303) Inland Public Properties Development, Inc. Dan Jones (512) Junction of Function Kelly Wilk (239) Kids Adventures, Inc Brennan Fontaine (303) McGraw Hill School Education Group Mary Lynn Grover (303) Mealtime/The CLM Group Jason Spence (800) NFP Partners Lee Bengston (303) Paychex Mary MacNeilly (303) PayChoice Kellie Karley (970) Preferred Meal Systems, Inc. James Drumm (847) Renaissance Learning, Inc. Sherilee Kerschen (715) Revolution Foods (Colorado) Jacqueline Gleason (720) Roche Constructors, Inc. Catherine Rust (970) Satellite Shelters Jamie Cunningham (303) Saunders Construction, Inc. Jason Kleinhelter (303) SLATERPAULL Architects Adele Willson (303) Smallwood Financial Patterson McKinlay (303) System Communications Steve Savickas (303) Tandus Flooring (formerly Collins and Aikman) John Kimble (303) Tatonka Capital Corp Laura Fiemann (303) Since Locally Owned and Operated! authorized dealer for We specialize in the Non-Profit Sector! Solutions Specific to your needs, including: Multi functional color and b/w printing devices Digital archiving and integrated scanning solutions Fleet printer management and support Software solutions IT infrastructure support Denver, Colorado Issue 1 / September 2010 Charter Focus 9

10 B y L o r r i e G r o v e Creative Enrollment Strategies off. Engage the community by offering workshops and classes at your facility for not only your parent base, but the community at large and be sure to publicize the opportunities! Topics like homework help, sibling rivalry, managing the overload may bring in droves of people, especially if you re able to find leaders in the community to donate their time and expertise. There are many keys to success for a charter school, including a healthy enrollment waitlist and a solid planning process. Let s face it without children filling the classrooms there would be no school, no wonderful teachers and no students running and playing on the playground. This is a two-phase process. Crucial to the longevity of any school is implementing a sound recruitment strategy with solid tactics. The first step in this process is to know and understand the communities from which you draw your enrollment not only where your school is located, but neighboring cities and towns that border your school as well. Ask yourself: What do the families living in these areas want in their child s education a certain curriculum, a strong foreign language program, emphasis in areas like the arts, science, math or technology? What gaps can your school fill that the neighborhood school is missing? Go back to your roots and revive the school s original mission and vision. Are the board and school leaders living up to the ideas that the founders put in place, which drew families to the school in the first place? Have you taken time to fine tune your niche your differentiator? Make sure to do what you do REALLY well. Phase two of your strategy is all about marketing your school effectively. Search out opportunities within your community to spread the word! Do you have a local paper that is education-friendly? Get to know the local reporters from your community newspapers and pitch them story ideas. Not just about your school, but about education as a whole. Bring to their attention the latest trends, highlight successes in the industry, as well as successes at your school. Do you have a happy parent base? Wordof-mouth is the best marketing tool out there! If all is going well at your school, your parents will help you market FOR FREE and without even realizing it! Share interesting stories about your school in your newsletter; put on musicals and plays and invite the community; talk about how many wonderful things your school is doing to inspire children, enrich their lives and grow them into productive citizens! This will get your parents talking about all the great things going on in your school and word will spread. Think creatively about ways to get involved in the community. Are the students learning about an interesting topic that the art teacher can piggyback onto with an art project that can later be donated to a local organization or to benefit children in another country? Talk about it! Share the news with your local press, encourage your parents to pass the word to their friends and neighbors, invite the community in for an art show before sending the projects Engage the community by offering workshops and classes at your facility for not only your parent base, but the community at large and be sure to publicize the opportunities! Offer regular tours of your school to interested parents and promote them. Leave flyers in local businesses, libraries, coffee shops, preschools, recreation centers, etc. that allow you to post information. Post the tours as an event in your local papers and online most of the time this is free! All of this will raise awareness of your school, creating a chain reaction with positive buzz in the community. People will wonder what s so great about your school, want to get on your waitlist, ask for tours and clamor to get their child enrolled! As you see your waitlist grow, it will become easier to reach your enrollment numbers. More parents will accept enrollment offers, and you ll have a strong waitlist supporting the seats that open up. All of this, hand-inhand with a strong board, leader, staff and well-taught curriculum will enable you to reach your enrollment numbers year after year. Like a marriage or any relationship, this takes work time and effort must be spent to raise awareness of your school, but in the end, it will pay off! Lorrie Grove is a Founding Board Member at SkyView Academy, a new K-12 charter opening in Highlands Ranch in Fall 2010 (www.skyviewacademy.org). 10 Charter Focus Issue 1 / September 2010

11 B y A d e l e W i l l s o n, A I A, L E E D, A P High Performance Facilities Projecting and Meeting Enrollment Numbers Insurance Considerations With a heightened awareness of how the school environment affects both students and teachers, high performance facilities have become an increasing trend in the world of educational facility design. With students and faculty spending 85 to 90 percent of their time indoors in the academic environment, providing a healthy and productive setting seems not only logical but essential. Today, we are more aware than ever that a healthy classroom environment can have a tremendous effect on many factors from health and well being, student absenteeism and teacher morale, to the quality of education and even enrollment numbers. With a heightened awareness of how the school environment affects both students and teachers, high performance facilities have become an increasing trend in the world of educational facility design, including the charter school market. The U.S Department of Energy defines a high performance facility as a building with energy, economic, and environmental performance that is substantially better than standard practice. In Colorado, there are numerous examples of charter schools which showcase that high performance environments don t necessarily require more work or cost more than traditional buildings, but are often just a matter of forethought and smarter design. It is our belief that if a building and site are high performing, the staff and students will have a propensity for high performance too. Whether you re planning a new facility or upgrading an existing building, your current commitment to creating the best academic environment for students and faculty can only be enhanced by integrating basic high performance philosophies into your charter school, while contributing to Iower operating costs and maintenance efforts, promoting a more stimulating learning environment and providing a boost to retention and recruitment activities. Adele Wilson, AIA, LEED, AP is a principal of SLATERPAULL Architects (www.slaterpaull.com). Insurance might be the last thing school administrators think about when projecting and meeting enrollment numbers/goals, yet its impact on a school s expense budget shouldn t be forgotten. A significant portion of a school s Liability, and all of its Student Accident coverage, is written based on enrollment data. Consequently, it s important to project as accurately as possible student enrollment numbers when applying for insurance coverage. If at all possible, administrators should strive to finalize student enrollment numbers before applying for insurance as enrollment information is not typically subject to an end of the policy term audit and consequent premium adjustment. Over estimate and you re likely to pay too much for liability insurance. Under-estimation compared to past enrollment data will quickly draw the attention and questioning of underwriters. With increasing frequency, schools are passing along the annual cost of Student Accident insurance coverage (typically $5.25 to $9.50/student by grade level and $95/student for football programs) directly to students in the form of fees. This practice decreases the school s liability exposure without affecting its budget - another good reason to finalize enrollment numbers before applying for insurance. T. Scott Kennedy is the President of Cherry Creek Insurance Agency. (www.cherrycreekins.com). Issue 1 / September 2010 Charter Focus 11

12 Rock Solid Public Investing. COLOTRUST is Colorado s original Government Investment Pool. With over $5 billion in assets under management, COLOTRUST continues to be the largest pool in the state. COLOTRUST PLUS+ carries a AAA rating from Standard & Poor s, Moody s & Fitch. For more information, please call Bruce Ely or Jim Berger at or toll-free at Visit our website at Colorado Local Government Liquid Asset Trust 1700 Broadway, Suite 2050 Denver, Colorado Colorado League of Charter Schools 725 S. Broadway, Suite 7 Denver CO phone fax MBS Survey Winner Congratulations to this year s MBS Survey winner: Chris Scott of Cesar Chavez Academy in Denver. Chris plans to use his $100 award to purchase a trophy for the winner of a student contest at CCA Denver. Contribute to Charter Focus To submit a story idea or article for Charter Focus, or if you have questions about any of the content in this edition of Charter Focus, Tiffany Kallevik at coloradoleague.org. CHARTER A Quarterly Journal for Charter School Business Managers 725 South Broadway, Suite 7 Denver, CO issue 1 / September 2010 Advertise in Charter Focus Put your business in front of decision makers at Colorado charter schools by advertising in Charter Focus! Contact Tiffany Kallevik at for rates and deadlines.

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