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Charter school to soon move into new quarters

A sign marks the new location for Caprock Academy on 24 1/2 Road just north of G Road in Grand Junction. New buildings expected to open in September will offer 35,000 square feet of classroom and office space, including larger areas for art and music instruction. (Business Times photos by Mike Moran)

A new school year already is underway at Caprock Academy, a Grand Junction charter school that instructs students from kindergarten through 11th grade. With the planned addition of 12th grade in 2012, Caprock soon will provide the only K-12 campus in the Grand Valley.

Students showed up July 25 for the first day of classes, attending class in modular buildings while construction crews worked on permanent buildings scheduled to open in September. The buildings at the new site at 714 24 1/2 Road will cover 35,000 square feet and include larger areas for art and music instruction as well as a gymnasium that will replace the current outdoor exercise area.

The Neenan Company based in Fort Collins serves as general contractor for the project. The firm was selected because of its experience in building charter schools, said Kristin Trezise, headmaster of Caprock.

As is the case with other charter schools, Caprock receives the same public funding per student as the local school district. That funding is estimated at $6,100 per student for the upcoming school year.

And like other charter schools, Caprock is barred from using public funds for construction. So the $7 million price tag for the new construction came in the form of private contributions and bonds that must be paid off with private funds.

Caprock has begun its fifth year of operation and Trezise has begun her fourth year as headmaster, the equivalent of a principal at a regular public school. Enrollment stands at 640 students, with another 100 on a waiting list.

Trezise dismissed concerns about instruction at the non-traditional school or the safety of young children attending the same campus as high school students.

“I think there are many opportunities for our kids to be educated,” she said. “We believe we’re meeting the needs with a classical core knowledge school.”

As for concerns about interaction between younger and older students, there haven’t been any problems, Trezise said. In fact, students learn how to interact with people of various ages. “I think it’s a great opportunity for older students to model,” she said.

Caprock begins the school year earlier and finishes later than do most schools in School District 51, yet offers fewer days of instruction. That’s because the school operates four days a week instead of five. The school day is longer, so total instruction time is about the same as it is in other schools. Students are required to take standardized state tests to measure to measure their progress against specific benchmarks.

For more information about Caprock Academy, visit www.caprockacademy.org.

Mike Moran has worked as a news and sports reporter, and news manager for the past 30 years, in markets that include Rochester, New York; Colorado Springs; Panama City, Florida and Monroe, Louisiana. He also teaches Speechmaking at Mesa State College and assists his wife, Toni Heiden, in managing her real estate company in downtown Grand Junction. Mike is active in Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction, the Mesa State MBA Alumni Committee, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Botanical Gardens of Western Colorado.
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