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Front Page » November 25, 2004 » Local News » Pinnacle tabulating student enrollment figures to secure ...
Published 3,532 days ago

Pinnacle tabulating student enrollment figures to secure high school recommendation


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By MELANIE STEELE
Sun Advocate reporter

Pinnacle high school remains one of three applicants still being considered for recommendation by the Utah State Charter School Board.

In September, Pinnacle Canyon Academy chief administrative officer Roberta Hardy applied to have a 200 student high school added to the curriculum offered by the kindergarten to eighth grade school.

The proposed high school, which would be located on the top floor of Pinnacle Canyon Academy's building on Airport Road in Price, would offer a different educational experience than that which is currently offered in Carbon and Emery counties, states the application.

Pinnacle was one of 19 schools seeking recommendation from the state charter board.

On Nov. 18, the board recommended that eight new school receive charters for the 2005-2006 year. In addition, three schools, including Pinnacle, were asked to provide additional information before the board takes action.

The board said it will re-review the applications in a Nov. 30 meeting. If any of the three charters are approved for recommendation, they will be forwarded to the Utah Board of Education for final approval in its Dec. 3 meeting.

The remaining eight applications were not forwarded with recommendation for approval, according to the state board, but can resubmit their applications for another school year.

Hardy said the key piece of information that the state charter board is requesting from the potential Pinnacle high school is a more defined number of expected student enrollment.

As a result, Hardy said a survey to gauge the amount of interest in the community has been printed in today's editions of the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress.

The survey can also be found online at the Pinnacle Canyon Academy web site, www.pcaschool.com.

Although the survey was not a requirement by the state charter panel, Hardy indicated that she wanted to have a more accurate number to take back to the school board rather than an estimate.

"They didn't say we had to go that far, but I think it is ethically the right thing to do," she commented.

Hardy will present the information gathered from the survey at the Nov. 30 meeting.

The Pinnacle Canyon Academy administrator said surveys submitted right up to the Nov. 30 date will be presented to the charter board.

Hardy also encouraged members of the community to take the survey online to assure that the information was received more quickly.

According to Education Excellence Utah, although 11 new charter schools opened in the state in the last year, the waiting list at charter schools have more than doubled.

Last year, 18 Utah charter schools had a combined waiting list of 1,769 student. This year, 29 charter schools have a combined waiting list of 4,069 students, pointed out Royce Van Tassell, executive director of Education Excellence Utah.

"This explosive growth emphasizes how many families are looking for a choice," he remarked. "Utah parents want the best education for their children and they're willing to sacrifice to insure their children get it."

Although charter schools are public schools, parents must often work more closely with the school, indicated Van Tassell. For example, most charter schools do not provide bus service or hot lunch, although Pinnacle Canyon does offer lunches. And, without many of the administrative services school districts provide, parents often volunteer substantial amounts of time at their children's school.

"Charter schools give parents and teachers greater control, which means stronger schools, stronger families and a better society," concluded Van Tassell.

The Carbon School District, however, is opposing the approval of Pinnacle High, noting that the addition of the technology-driven group would have negative implications all the way across the district.

According to Carbon Superintendent David Armstrong, Pinnacle High would affect schools all the way down to the elementaries. Armstrong projected that programs will have to be cut, beginning with the elementary band program.

"That has a rippling effect into the community. It will hurt our businesses and it will hurt our district," he stated.

For example, Armstrong pointed out that by cutting the band programs, local suppliers of musical instruments would be negatively impacted.

Prior to the Nov. 30 meeting, Armstrong said the board will be sending reasoning for their objections to the state.

"We'll be forwarding documentation as to the reasons the charter school shouldn't be put here," commented Armstrong. "The charter school board is pretty sharp and hopefully they'll see the deficiencies."

Armstrong said if Pinnacle High receives recommendation by the charter school board, though, he and other members of the district will attend the Utah State Board of Education meeting on Dec. 3 to reiterate their objections.



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