Potential COVA closure at hand

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Before enrolling at the Colorado Virtual Academy six years ago, Sarah Fanning was unsatisfied with her education and her school.

The Thornton resident wasn’t a fan of her traditional school setting, and felt she couldn’t properly learn the content in her crowded classrooms. But now, the 10th-grader says she’s thriving at COVA, learning things she never thought she would otherwise.

“The best part about COVA is I have the curriculum that need,” she said. “I can take the courses I need and choose the advanced classes like history and science that I’m really good at.”

But Fanning’s COVA education could end by the end of this summer. The school is currently chartered through the Adams 12 Five Star Schools district and that charter is set to expire on June 30. The school board will decide whether to renew the COVA application next month.

Currently the Adams 12 staff recommendation is to deny the renewal application based on several reasons, but the key one being the lack of success in COVA’s education program. The school is in its third year of Priority Improvement status and failure to rise to Improvement status within the next two years will result in the district being required to take action to restructure or close COVA.

Although the school may be in the Priority Improvement status, Fanning said the school has challenged her in more ways than one. She said when she enrolled in sixth grade, she was very behind the COVA curriculum, and it took her two years to catch up. But now she says she is much further in her education then she would have been had she stayed in a traditional school.

“COVA has given me so many opportunities. Because of the schedule I am able to intern at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which is really cool,” she said. “COVA is the perfect school for me and many other students. It’s not going to work for everyone, but it works really well for me.”

Rick Harper’s son, Ron, is in eighth grade at COVA. The choice for COVA came when Ron suffered from a rare skin disease. Harper said the stress of trying to go to a traditional school became too much because of his son’s condition, the medications and the surgeries he needed. He said since enrolling in COVA, Ron has been able to keep up with his education, which would have been impossible any other way.

“COVA has been a godsend, it really has,” he said. “I can help him one-on-one or he can get help from teachers whenever he needs it. He would have been so behind in school if it wasn’t for COVA.”

Fanning said if the school closes, she’s not sure what she’ll do in the future.

“I feel the Adams 12 board needs to realize that we are not just graduation rates, we’re not just numbers,” she said. “We are individual students and we shouldn’t be limited to being just a percentage.”