Pueblo's Bessemer Academy Stays Public

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A few years ago, Bessemer Academy was one of the lowest performing schools in Colorado. But it made a remarkable turnaround. For the last year, teachers and other school administrators have been working on a plan to make it a charter school. Now, they're very disappointed.

Paula Chostner is an 8th grade teacher at Bessemer Academy. She's been working hard on the plan to make Bessemer a charter school. "We are a proven product here in the district, but we'd like to take our kids a step farther along." Chostner says being a charter school would bring Bessemer innovative technology, more computers and programs to get parents involved.

As a charter, the school would have access to more funding from private and government grants. In fact, the state just awarded Bessemer a $330,000 grant. But now, that check won't come because it did not become a charter school. "I feel we were at the crossroads of a wonderful, wonderful odyssey and I think we passed up that opportunity"

District 60 board members rejected Bessemer's proposal by a vote of three to two. "I think at this time we need to use the resources for the better good of the district," said board member Kathleen Kennedy.

She also says the district has to worry about budget shortfalls and how that will affect all students.

This may not be over. Bessemer Academy can appeal the decision to the State Board of Education. However, the teachers and principal have not yet decided if they're going to do that.