Pinnacle's proposal to add high school fails to receive state board recommendation
The proposal to expand Pinnacle Canyon Academy to include a high school failed to receive a recommendation from the Utah Charter School Board.
The board decided not to make a recommendation after Pinnacle presented additional information regarding the proposal during a Nov. 30 meeting in Salt Lake City.
On Nov. 18, Pinnacle high was one of three charter schools asked to return to the board with more information before the panel decided whether to give a recommendation.
According to Roberta Hardy, Pinnacle Canyon Academy founder and the driving force behind the addition of the charter high school, the board requested additional figures on how many students were expected to enroll.
To gather data for the charter board, a survey on community interest was printed in editions of the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress.
The survey was also posted on the Pinnacle Canyon Academy web site.
However, Pinnacle high school did not receive a recommendation for the 2005-2006 school year from the board.
All applications that did not receive recommendations were encouraged to continue working with the charter school board and resubmit requests at a later date.
Carbon Superintendent David Armstrong, an opponent of Pinnacle Canyon Academy's addition of the high school, was in attendance at the majority of the meetings dealing with the matter.
In past interviews, Armstrong indicated that the addition of the charter high school would not be in the best interest of local students and that a loss of funding to programs beginning with the elementaries would likely occur if the state board approved Pinnacle's application.
Charter schools have historically come under criticism for being elitist and not being accountable for comparable test results as the main stream schools.
But a recent report issued by the Utah Office of Education stated that there are many positive indicators, in addition to challenges, that can be observed from the past two years of change for the state's charter schools.
"We have learned that basing success solely on test scores does not give a true indication of the success of the schools. Test scores do not represent true cohorts or the same type of previous preparations," noted the report. "Each charter school is unique in its dynamics, goals and challenges."
"For example, four of the eight schools have specific focus on at-risk or disadvantaged youth. Students at these schools were failing and have now found a positive school environment where they can succeed," pointed out the state education office.
The report pointed out that, in general, there have been many positive indicators during the past year of the success of Utah's charter schools.
"The best evidence comes through feedback from both parents and students indicating satisfaction with the schools. Parents, teachers, and students have been vocal in their approval of the charter schools' classroom communities. The schools have created a positive learning environment by including students, parents, family members, teachers, and community leaders to enhance the learning experience," indicated the report.
Smaller class sizes have had a positive impact on teacher/student relationships, the report continued.
Teachers have been able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student and work with them on a one-on-one basis more frequently.
An additional positive indicator of charter school success is the low absenteeism recorded.
Students who would normally skip school have been attending and demonstrating their academic abilities on a regular basis.
But, while there are increasing positive indicators of charter school successes, challenges still remain, the report stated.
"The greatest challenge facing most schools is obtaining adequate funding and adequate facilities to support all of the school's programs. Learning and applying state rules and regulations for testing, reporting, accounting, etc, also remains a challenge for these schools. School districts have had difficulty providing and staffing support programs within the schools (including, transportation, food services, and special education)," commented the board of education.
I "There has also been an initial lack of support from the community due to misinformation or lack of information and understanding about the choices charter schools offer parents and students. Many do not fully understand how the schools work and that these schools are public, and not private schools," concluded the state board of education office's report