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State Charter School Board places St. George Academy on probation

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - Nov. 17, 2019 at 12:58 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The State Charter School Board has placed St. George Academy on probation for up to one year and approved its plan intended to address the board’s concerns over the public charter school’s enrollment and financial viability.

Last week, the board rescinded its vote in October to begin the process of terminating the school’s charter.

A press release from the State Charter School Board states that the academy “successfully demonstrated its ability to resolve concerns that originally led to the proposed termination. St. George Academy will be closely monitored by State Charter School Board staff and is required to abide by specific guidelines to support enrollment and financial viability in the short and long term.”

In October, board staff raised concerns about the school’s apparent reliance on a $190,000 personal loan from a member of the school’s board of directors and the sale of land that generated $140,000.

Even with that infusion, the school’s unrestricted cash on hand is problematic, which has ranged from six to 11 days’ worth in recent months, staff said. The board wants schools to have 30 days of unrestricted funds on hand, officials said.

St. George Academy’s eventual enrollment was expected to be 550 students, according to the school’s charter. As of Oct. 1, its enrollment was 252 students, school officials said. The academy is a college preparatory school for grades eight through 12.

Board Chairwoman Kristin Elinkowski, speaking on behalf of the board, commended St. George Academy, its board and the community for its response and immediate action to address the enrollment and financial viability issues.

“The outpouring of community support has been overwhelming and demonstrates the value that the charter offers students of all abilities and backgrounds,” Elinkowski said in a statement.

St. George Academy board President Neil Walter said in a statement that the academy “is anxious to continue the work of delivering exceptional academic results, an inclusive environment and a proprietary pre-ACT program for grades 8-12 students in southern Utah.”

In October, the State Charter School Board also voted to begin the process to revoke the charter of Capstone Classical Academy in Pleasant View, Weber County, which serves students in grades six through 12 with a focus on classical arts and sciences.

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Charter board staff also raised concerns about the school’s enrollment and financial viability. Earlier, the state board issued a notice of concern.

Capstone Classical Academy opened in the 2018-19 academic year, starting with students in grades six through 10. According to its original charter, the school planned to open with an enrollment of 360 students and scale to 700 students by its third year. Its current enrollment is 177 students.

State Charter School Board staff also raised concerns about the school’s financial status, noting the school could be $450,000 in the red by the end of the academic year.

The hearing will be conducted on Dec. 9 and any action related to the hearing will be addressed at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 12.

Marjorie Cortez

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