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Buena Vista gains school board approval to add grades 7-8


Buena Vista Principal David Brilliant speaks during a school program.
Westside Pioneer file photo
       The District 11 Board of Education (BOE) approved a request at its meeting Wednesday, Jan. 22 to let the school add grades 7-8. The extension will take effect in the 2014-15 school year. Funding was not part of the request.
       The public Montessori school at 924 W. Pikes Peak Ave. has been allowed to teach students from preschool through the sixth grade - the result of a designation the board OK'd in 2011 (the school's highest grade had previously been fifth).
       The designation request was on the consent agenda for the BOE meeting.
       During the preceding citizen-comments opportunity, three Buena Vista parents spoke in favor of the idea. One said she lives in District 49 and "choices" into District 11 so her child can attend. Another, saying he had three children at BV, pointed out that he lived near the boundary of D-11 and D-12 (Cheyenne/Broadmoor area) and without the middle school option might opt for D-12.
       No speaker expressed opposition.
       The vote was unanimous and without debate. "Congratulations, Buena Vista," BOE Chair LuAnn Long said after the vote.
       Before the meeting, BV Principal David Brilliant told the Westside Pioneer that the school has seven sixth-graders now whose families are interested in having them stay in public Montessori education through middle school. “A lot of families are looking for ways to do middle school differently,” he noted.
       He believes he can make room for seven students within the current buildings on West Pikes Peak, but a larger site may be needed in the future as the enrollment grows.
       The school has been considering adding a middle school level for a few years. However, even without the two extra grades, space is tight at the current facility, Brilliant has previously explained. See Westside Pioneer story at http://westsidepioneer.com/Articles/122012/BuenaVista.html.
       In a letter to Superintendent Nick Gledich and Jason Ter Horst (an executive director of D-11's K-12 schools), Brilliant points out educational possibilities that could open up: “Having the designation will allow us to continue planning our long-term projects such as middle school alignment to STEM [(science, technology, engineering, and math)] programming and/or IB in high school, based on project-based learning, community service and leadership development; as well as create new or extend current partnerships with UCCS and Colorado College-Catamount to include middle school programming and learning opportunities.”
       Buena Vista started a transition to Montessori in 2004, becoming an all-Montessori school of choice starting in 2009. It is the only such public school in the region. The teaching methodology is named for early 1900s Italian educator Maria Montessori, who believed that children learn better in a non-traditional setting, using hands-on methods and being self-directed as much as possible.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/22/14)