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State orders 120-day takeover of Colorado Springs Charter Academy following financial concerns

CSCA Full Shot

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Department of Education is ordering a third party to take over fiduciary powers at Colorado Springs Charter Academy (CSCA) following several financial concerns at the school. 

In a preliminary order from Colorado Department of Education's (CDE) Commissioner Katy Anthes, she says Colorado Springs Charter Academy’s financial situation is "extremely uncertain."

Due to these concerns, Anthes ordered former Jefferson County School District R-1 Superintendent Daniel M. McMinimee to take over the duties of CSCA's board of directors. 

Back in April, the Colorado Attorney General's Office issued the board members of CSCA a "cease and desist demand" following accusations of mishandling school funds and violating board policies.

A letter from the Colorado Attorney General's Office ordered the charter school’s board to stop appointing new board members until further notice due to a breach of contract with the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI). 

CSI says one of the charter school’s board members was allowed to become a signer for their operating account, access to the school’s accounting system, and possessed a $50,000 credit card without the proper authorization.

Anthes and the CDE were tasked with serving as an intermediary between both parties in the matter.  

In the order sent to both CSCA and CSI on June 8, the state notes that the charter's school financial management issues and lapses in the board's government processes pose a significant threat to the CSCA's ability to remain open.

Anthes believes that without intervention it is unlikely that CSCA will resolve its Fiscal Year 2023 budget for the upcoming school year, which is due next month. According to the order, the upcoming budget is dependent on two unresolved factors: enrollment and staff salaries. Some of the salaries for staff remain unapproved, while the enrollment numbers for 2023 are unclear. 

Meanwhile, CSCA’s “financial-management contractor position will terminate by July 20, 2022.” The position is tasked with bookkeeping, payroll, and accounting services. 

The order from the CDE lays out CSCA’s plan to address a number of concerns: 

“(CSCA’s) plan includes several steps to occur within 30, 90, and 100 days. Within 30 days, the board plans to solicit proposals and hire a school consulting firm to provide board and staff training, assess and document staff concerns, assess and document board needs, evaluate and rewrite policies as needed. Within 90 days, the consulting firm is to complete an assessment, issue a report and recommendations, and a chief financial officer is to be hired. Within 100 days, (CSCA) will meet with CSI.”

However, the CDE Commissioner found that CSCA presented no evidence that they’ve made “substantial progress towards these goals.” With the upcoming school year beginning in fewer than 90 days, the Commissioner states that even if all the steps were completed on schedule the plan does not timely address whether or not the school will be ready for the upcoming year. 

“Based on the foregoing, the Commissioner finds that an emergency and a significant risk of irreparable injury exist,” Anthes said in her June 8 order. “The Commissioner also finds that the risk to (CSCA’s) solvency bears directly on its ability to open and maintain operations in the upcoming school year, pay staff, and educate its enrolled students. (CSCA’s) inability to open—or its closure during the school year—would result in grave disruption to the students, their education, and the 7 staff; would displace enrolled students, who would require transfer to other schools.”

According to the board, they're down to three of seven directors. Multiple board directors have resigned since the beginning of December 2021.

13 Investigates reached out to Colorado Springs Charter Academy’s Attorney and Treasurer for comment on Monday. We are waiting on responses for both. 

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Let us that this moment and thank the person who started this school, Steve Schuck, for a job well done.

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