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Charter school enrollment could jump significantly

Charter school enrollment could jump significantly

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Enrollment in the state's charter schools could increase nearly 50 percent by the 2010-11 school year if the state Board of Education approves several new schools and agrees to expand others.

The state's charter school board wants the state board to approve four new charter schools to open in 2010 and the expansion of five existing schools that year.

Total, the proposed expansions would create room for nearly 13,000 more students in charter schools in 2010-11 compared with this school year. About 27,000 students attend the state's 66 charter schools.

However, Marlies Burns, state charter school office director, said all those spots might not be filled.

State law limits charter school enrollment to a certain amount each year. The board could have recommended more charter schools to open in 2010-11 but only four met the board's standards. "We have to make a decision: Are they ready?" said Scott Smith, board vice-chairman.

Schools recommended to open in 2010 include a satellite school of American Preparatory Academy and a Montessori school. Schools recommended to expand in 2010 include Spectrum Academy, a K-8 school that primarily serves students with high-functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. That school will be able to add a ninth grade in 2010 if its plan gains final approval. Spectrum Principal Jaime Christensen said the school now has about 200 students on its waiting list.

"For the students here getting ready to go to high school, it's kind of crisis time for the parents because there's really nowhere to send them other than the traditional public schools and the reason they have come here is their lack of success with the traditional schools," Christensen said.

------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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