National School Choice Week has been held every year since 2011 in late January to raise awareness of, and celebrate education, options for children. This year it is from Jan. 21 through Jan. 27.
Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed a proclamation declaring Colorado School Choice Week. Several Colorado towns and counties did as well.
Park County commissioners discussed a local proclamation Jan. 18, but did not proclaim the week as Park County School Choice Week.
“I thought the proclamation was quite good, which is why I voted for it,” Commissioner Dick Elsner emailed The Flume.
According to Elsner, Commissioners Mike Brazell and Mark Dowaliby voted against the proclamation.
Brazell emailed The Flume saying there was discussion on the proclamation, but no motion was made and no vote was taken.
A press release found at www.schoolchoiceweek.com stated 559 events and activities will take place across Colorado this week.
Three were held in Park County, according to the website map of events: one in Fairplay about advantages of home schooling and one at each charter school in Guffey and Lake George.
According to the website, the week is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort showcasing K-12 educational options. It also doesn’t advocate for any legislative campaign related to education.
A flyer can be downloaded that briefly describes six Colorado school options.
Four are tax-funded public school options, including online academies and public schools courses, magnet, charter and traditional schools.
Homeschooling is popular in Colorado and can be combined with free online learning activities.
Private schools do not receive state funding.
More about Colorado education options and school options may be found at www.cde.state.co.us/choice.
Mark your calendars now to attend one of two meetings in Bailey to explain the next steps to fund fiber optic cable to residences and businesses. The fiber will connect to the county’s broadband backbone infrastructure.
The county cannot provide internet service directly to businesses and residences, but service companies can rent space on the county’s infrastructure to provide broadband internet service to individuals and businesses.
he meetings will be held Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. Both will take place at the Platte Canyon Fire Protection District Station #2 on Crow Hill.
Either a light dinner or lunch will be served.
“I think these meetings will be heavily attended. I see the school just announced it in their newsletter,” Brazell emailed The Flume.
Brazell said he chose Bailey first because the approximately 4,600 homes are at a higher density than elsewhere in the county. Other areas will be addressed in the future.
Brazell’s leadership and efforts in 2016 and 2017 led the Colorado legislature to pass a bill that now allows public and private joint efforts in providing broadband internet.
Another bill Brazell championed allows the formation of a Local Improvement District to bring optic fiber to residences and businesses.
Brazell said few rural communities now have broadband because of the cost of fiber optics and the backbone infrastructure.
Park County received two state grants and one federal grant plus providing cash matches to install backbone infrastructure, also called middle mile infrastructure. Total of grants and matches was $1.5 million.
The infrastructure connects all government entities in the Bailey and Fairplay/Alma areas.
Some communities are finding partners to help fund broadband. Two examples Brazell gave the other two county commissioners are Meeker/Rangely and Paonia.
In Paonia, a town of about 1,500, the local rural electric association decided to become a partner. After two coal mines shut down, putting 350 employees out of work, families and then businesses started leaving town.
Brazell said now that high speed internet is available, Paonia’s economy is picking up, and businesses are returning.
Brazell said he spoke to Intermountain Rural Electric Association, and it was not interested in partnering in park County.
Severance taxes from oil and gas operations in Rio Blanco County were enough for Meeker and Rangely, with a combined total of around 5,000 homes, to get fiber optic cable laid to all residences and businesses, Brazell said.
He said satellite service is not considered broadband because of the latency or the time for a signal to travel to the satellite and return to earth.
He also said that even wireless telecommunications needs a fiber backbone.
To learn more about Park County’s efforts and accomplishments, go to www.parkco.us. The broadband link is on the left side of the home page.
Vouchers approved Jan. 18 were for $201,325. The general fund spent $139,989. Public works spent $33,800. Fleet services spent $16,348. The remaining approximately $11,000 was spent by the human services, conservation trust, county grant and capital expenditure funds.