D-20’s new charter school welcomes more than 500 students

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Hundreds of students poured through the doors of New Summit Charter Academy Wednesday morning for their first day of school.

“They were so excited. We’ve been looking forward to this all summer,” said Emily Forand, a mom dropping off her fourth- and sixth-graders.

This is the first year New Summit Charter Academy is open for students. Right now, the school is for kindergarten through sixth-graders. There’s also a preschool housed in the building.

“We have families now who are enrolled who are coming from all over the city because we’re really centrally located now, which is great,” said Principal Kim McClelland.

New Summit Charter Academy is District 20’s first new charter school in 20 years. The only other charter school in the district is The Classical Academy.

“It’s been an amazing journey, seeing this school coming together,” said Cathy Vanley, a grandmother seeing her grandkids off. “A lot of people have worked extremely hard to make this happen.”

Parents wanted to start a new charter school because they said there was a long waitlist to get into TCA.

“We are so excited,” said parent Brooke Bachmann. “This community that is forming has just been so encouraging. It’s so exciting. It really is exciting to see what the future is going to be for all of our children and the children in the community.”

Students were supposed to start school Aug. 15, but construction delays pushed it back to Monday. Last week, the school failed an inspection, so the start date was pushed back again until Wednesday.

“This isn’t uncommon. It’s unfortunate, obviously, but it’s not uncommon when starting a charter school or starting a school,” McClelland said.

The school had to make minor adjustments, including moving down sinks, fixing lighting, and adding red paint to the fire lane in the parking lot before it could pass the inspection.

“We knew that they’re taking care of us, and this is going to be a great environment, a safe environment and fun for the kids,” Bachmann said. “They’re not going to open those doors until they can guarantee that all of those things will happen.”

McClelland said there would be more than 500 students attending the school. She said seventh grade will be added next year and eighth grade will be added in 2020. Next year, the school will also apply to become a K-12 campus. McClelland said ninth- through 12th-graders would most likely have their own building.