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Local Parents Seek Charter School Approval

A group of area parents, including two from Castle Pines North, will soon file an application with Douglas County for approval for a new Core Knowledge charter school.

If approved, the new school will be known as American Academy at Castle Pines. The committee’s goal is to locate the school in the Castle Pines North area, although organizers are currently pursuing a variety of site options.

A charter school is a public school that maintains a contract—a “charter”—with the school district in which it resides. As with a public school, funds are distributed on a per-student basis. The difference is that a charter school must do more with the funds, in particular provide its own building. That is why parents in charter schools usually do more fund-raising, and usually sign up to volunteer a minimum number of hours.

According to Jackie Santos, a resident of HOA#2 and one of the founding board members, there are five charter schools in Douglas County. Three of them offer Core-Knowledge curricula, and all have long wait lists.

Core Knowledge is an academically-focused curriculum that outlines specifically what material is covered in each grade, thereby reducing gaps or repetition in a student’s education and offering depth through content that builds on previous knowledge. The curriculum at American Academy will have an additional emphasis on math, science and technology.

Finally, the school will focus on building character and values. The group’s website,, features a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that states “To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

Interested parents can submit an “intent to enroll” form on the website. The form is non-binding, but a longer list of interested applicants would show the school district that the project has support.

American Academy’s contract will determine exactly how many students will be educated in each grade. As with standard public schools, a charter school cannot discriminate, but it also does not need to admit more than the charter dictates. Because American Academy would accept federal start-up funds, new students would be accepted on a lottery basis following federal guidelines.

American Academy’s founding board consists of Jim Downey, a resident of Castle Pines Village, Denese Gardener, who lives south of Castle Rock; Adil Kahn of Aurora; Erin Kane of Kings Crossing, and Jackie Santos, also of Kings Crossing. A group of about a dozen more are currently working on various aspects of getting the school off the ground, including the application to Douglas County School District, marketing and public relations, curriculum, staffing, location, finance, and technology.

The charter application is due to the school district no later than October 1, after which time the County has 75 days to issue its decision.

For more information, contact the website at



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