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EAGLE -- Less cash and leadership in limbo are creating big challenges for a charter school in Eagle.

The school board at North Star Charter School will meet tonight to discuss its future and how to stay on track.

The school opened in 2003 and this year has been described as its most challenging.

North Star Charter has been growing. Student enrollment at the K-11 school doubled from 400 last year to 800 this year.

They love it, we all love it, it's a good school, very promising, said parent Sunnie Kitnikone.

But recently the school board has had to make tough decisions.

Nearly two weeks ago, they put Principal Phyllis Smith on paid leave and will not disclose why.

In a letter to parents, the board said it was necessary to alter the organizational structure of the school.

This in many ways we've referred to us as the perfect storm, said Kerri Hoffman, acting board chair of North Star Charter School.

Then there are the school s finances.

According to Hoffman, the school is several hundred thousand dollars below budget.

She says a higher mortgage at its new building and state budget cuts have led to the shortfall, and what made it worse was when students were out sick. The higher the school's attendance, the more state money it gets.

Seventy-percent of your funding comes in the first 10 weeks of school, and so in the first 10 weeks of school, if you remember back to the fall, it was flu season, and we had a pretty severe flu season, said i Hoffman.

A financial consultant has looked over the school's books and will present possible cost-cutting plans at a meeting Tuesday night.

Layoffs and cutting school programs are not on the table, but salary reductions for the school's estimated 40 employees are.

No final decisions will be made until early summer, and that's why Hoffman wants to see parents and the community at tonight s meeting -- to hear the ideas and throw out some of their own.

That's what we really need to be thinking is outside of the box. We need to stop relying on only state funding to run our school. And so ideas that can help us generate revenue to become cash positive at the end of the year and really support our program, said Hoffman.

The board will also review the decision to put the principal on leave at tonight s meeting. It's possible she could be reinstated.

The meeting at the North Star Charter School begins at 6:30 p.m.

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