You see things and you say, “Why?”
But I dream things that never were and I say, “Why not?” George Bernard Shaw
Community Leadership Academy (CLA) opened in 2005 as the first and only K-8 charter school in Adams County School District 14. The first year of operations proved the desire for educational options and school choice was significant. Community Leadership Academy has maintained its high enrollment and a waiting list.
The school was conceived in March 2003, when several community members met to discuss education reform in Adams County School District 14. The discussion was facilitated by Ron Jajdelski, Executive Director at Commerce City Community Enterprise, a local grassroots non-profit focusing on empowering citizens to lead local change. These visionaries continued to meet and develop the school’s mission, programming and culture.
The charter application was developed and then submitted to Adams 14 in September 2003. The application review process consisted of attending over 40 meetings and negotiating a contract. In January 2004, the Adams 14 Board of Education approved the charter with 16 conditions. Some of these conditions were in violation of the Colorado Charter Schools Act (C.R.S. 22-30.5). The founders filed an appeal to the decision claiming it was in effect a denial of the application. The appeal was held in front of the Colorado State Board of Education. The State Board ruled that the conditions placed on the school were not in the best interest of the school or students. The matter was remanded back to the district and school to resolve. On May 27, 2004, a mutually agreed upon contract was signed with a term of three years, effective July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2008. The school originally opened for the 2005-06 school year with 344 students in grades K-8. It operated out of 13 leased, modular buildings on the two-acre site at 6880 Holly Street in Commerce City, Colorado.
On November 13, 2007, Adams 14 approved the school’s renewal application, which extended the charter contract for a five-year term from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2013. In 2008, CLA also secured bond financing to build a 55,000 square foot permanent facility.
In March of 2011, Adams 14 released CLA from its authority and allowed the school to enter into a contract with the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) as its new authorizer. Community Leadership Academy and CSI’s first contract was effective effect July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2016. In November 2015, Community Leadership Academy was renewed for an additional 5-year term effective July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2021, then renewed for a 2-year term from 2021-2023, and now is in a 5-year contract through June 30, 2028.
CLA has achieved six consecutive years of school wide increase on State standardized assessments and has maintained an accreditation rating of “Performance”. Community Leadership Academy is now also ranked one the highest performing schools serving at-risk students in the entire State of Colorado.
In 2012, Community Leadership Academy added preschool for four year-olds and was approved to further expand grade levels to include a high school and operate on a new site.
Most recently, the second campus, Victory Preparatory Academy opened at 5701 Quebec Street and serves grades 6-12. It is situated on an eight acre site in a 55,000 square foot, three-story, brick and mortar building. The first class of 9th grade students received CDE’s High School Growth Award for achieving the highest growth in reading and math on state assessments. Currently, the middle and high school are among Colorado’s top performing schools.
The charter now serves approximately 650 students in grades PK-12.