DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Douglas County School District Board approved the charter contract for STEM School Highlands Ranch to be renewed. The new five year term will start July 1.
That term may be shortened to three years if STEM does not comply with certain conditions. The current contract expired on Saturday.
The board and the school had started negotiations on a contract renewal in January and were in the midst of discussion when a shooting erupted at the school in May. One student was killed and eight others were hurt.
Those discussions were paused until recently. The board then proposed a one-year extension, to which parents and school officials objected.
“We came from a tragedy. There are still a lot of people at the school that are still dealing with this tragedy,” said Baird.
School district board members said prioritizing safety for students was second to none in the requirements laid out in the 137 page contract between DCSD and STEM Highlands Ranch.
“(The contract) contains terms addressing student welfare and safety, including the hiring and retention of licensed staff,” one presenter said to the board.
In the draft of the agreed-upon contract, STEM is required to go beyond many state-standards including when it came to safety. The district required a local law enforcement officer be hired as a Student Resource Officer for the high school students, while allowing STEM to contract out private security guards for the middle and elementary schools.
Another condition, highlighted by the board, states STEM must protect whistleblowers within the school and shield them from retaliation from those in authority.
STEM will also be required to employ staff who are trained in threat assessment and mental health.
The five year deal can be voided after only three, if the district finds stem in violation of any of the regulations. The contract could last until 2024.
“I think that stem has some work to do and I am fine with that. But, I am glad that we got our five year contract,” said Nikki Baird, a parent.
“When we sat down and worked through the hard issues, we found there is a lot of common ground. We are going to move forward together for the next five years and do a lot of great things. It was a very exciting day,” said Rudy Lukez, a STEM Highlands Ranch board member.
View the recorded meeting on Livestream.