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Two Salt Lake County Charter Schools Close

Two Utah Charter School are closed after the State Charter School Board determined they had a mix of budget problems, teacher credential issues and poor academic scores. 

At Wasatch Institute of Technology, the school board president and business director are packing boxes and disassembling computers in empty classrooms. With a focus on computer science, the school served eighty high school students grades nine through twelve. Business Director Leif Nelson describes it this way:

“A tech school, a school full of nerds. And it was wonderful,” Nelson says.

Nelson is proud of what the school accomplished in its first and only year. He shows me photos of students doing hands-on projects like designing a small solar home. But the school failed to get enough students enrolled this year. He’s sad for the kids who have to find a new school, but he’s already talking about opening a new school in the future.  

“With that amount of experience and what we’ve learned it would be a waste,” Nelson says.

Wasatch Institute of Technology and Alianza Academy, a K through 8 charter school in West Valley City were both placed on probation and had since March to fix the problems. Howard Headlee is chair of the Utah State Charter School Board. He says this is the first time a charter school in Utah has been shuttered.

“They’re all not going to work,” Headlee says. “And it’s important when it becomes clear that it doesn’t work that we close down that experiment and try something new.”

Headlee adds there’s never a good time to close a school.

“This process has been very public and it’s been very deliberate and very fair,” Headlee says. “And everyone has had plenty of time to address the deficiencies. “

Information about charter schools, including financial information and academic scores can be found on the state school board’s website

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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