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Just 2 of 7 Utah charter schools given green light

Just 2 of 7 Utah charter schools given green light



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Seven new charter schools sought permission to open in the fall of 2011, but most didn't make the cut.

Of those, five were rejected by the State Charter School Board last week, including one that highlighted athletics and another intended to help home-school students get more comfortable with the public school system.

Brian Allen, chairman of the State Charter School Board, said it's unusual for so few proposals to get approval.

"We're getting a bit more particular," Allen said. "We are learning more about what it means to be prepared to open a school, and these schools just didn't live up to expectations."

He said the decisions weren't based on financial stress and the state's recent discussions about reducing funding for charter schools.

Two new proposed charter schools will now be considered by the Utah State Office of Education: Aspire Online Charter School and Good Foundations Academy.

Utah has capped charter school growth at 7,550 students for the 2011-2012 school year. Combined, the seven charter schools that sought approval were requesting about 3,500 seats.

In a typical year -- dating back to 2001 -- between six and 15 charter schools have been approved. Seven started classes this fall, and six have been approved to open in 2010.

Some were taken aback by the board's vote last week. The board even voted twice after a request for a revote.

"I was like, 'Whoa,"' said Tom Koehler, chairman of the board for Good Foundations Academy in Davis County. "There's a lot of work that goes into creating a charter. I can't imagine being turned away at this point."

Advocates said they were surprised but not unhappy.

"This decision shows us that there is no longer a need for a cap because the board is raising the bar," said Kim Frank of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools. "Only good quality schools get through."

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Information from: Deseret News

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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