Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about UCAP, charters or the SCSB. FAQs is intended to help provide direction on frequently asked questions or concerns in order to to educate and inform. Some questions contain documents and links to further your understanding.
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Charter schools are tuition-free public schools open to any state resident created by a group of parents, teachers or community leaders who see an educational need in their community. The charter school controls its own curriculum, staffing, organization, and budget. Like other public schools, charter schools serve students from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Charters Schools offer parents and students additional choices about where students attend school and the school’s curricular emphasis. They allow educators freedom to try new strategies to inspire students and to experiment with innovative ways of educating students. Also, charter schools allow individuals and organizations outside of the traditional education system to create and run public schools.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Yes. A public school is defined as a school that is open to the public, funded by the public, and accountable to the public. Charter schools meet all three tests.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Yes. Like other public schools, charter schools must be open to every child regardless of race, religion, disability, or academic ability. However, if the number of students applying to enroll in a charter school exceeds the capacity of the school or of programs, classes, or grade levels within the school, then those to be admitted are chosen at random from among the applicants, subject to certain preferences: Mandatory Preference - If a public school converts to charter school status, students who would have attended the public school must be given preference in enrollment. Optional Preference - Based on the written charter, preference may also be given to the following: • Students whose parent or grandparents s were actively involved in the development of the charter school (Founders) • Students whose parent or grandparents serve or served on the governing board • Students who have a sibling who attends or attended the charter school • Students returning from the previous school year • Students who reside within the school district where the charter school is located • Students who reside up to two-miles from the school • Students whose parent is a staff member in the charter school • Students whose parents are in the military

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Like all public schools, charter schools are required to provide access and services to all students, including students with disabilities, limited English proficiency, socio-economic disadvantages, and other special needs.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Yes. Nationwide, students in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics to students in all public schools. However, charter schools in some states serve significantly higher percentages of minority or economically disadvantaged students. In Utah, the demographics vary from school to school, with some schools serving very diverse populations.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
As public schools, Utah’s charter schools must comply with the State’s requirements for student assessment.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A charter school must make the same annual reports as other public schools, including an annual financial audit and monthly budget report. Charter schools must participate in the statewide testing programs and submit all required reports requested by the Utah State Board of Education. Additionally, the authorizer of the charter school is required to develop an accountability plan for each school and conduct a review every five years.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Charter schools are public schools and as such are required to comply with all Utah laws, except those that expressly do not apply to charter schools. For example, charter schools must comply with laws pertaining to special education, the accounting system, student health and safety, compulsory school attendance, and standardized testing. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) may waive any of its rules for a charter school or other public school if the school applies for a waiver and USBE finds that the waiver would not violate applicable law or cause harm to students or the school. A Charter School is exempt from existing negotiated agreements relating to the hiring, employment, and dismissal of employees. A charter school’s governing body may determine the level of compensation and the terms and conditions of employment for its employees.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Yes. Charter schools are subject to most of the same federal, constitutional, statutory, and regulatory requirements applicable to other public schools.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Yes. All Utah public secondary schools offering high school credit and/or diplomas must be accredited by AdvancED. Accreditation is optional for all public schools K-8.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
The Utah Charter Schools Act is part of the Utah Strategic Planning Act for Educational Excellence and is part of the State System of Public Education (53G-5 et seq.).

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
No. As with other public schools, charter schools must be non-religious in their programs, admissions policies, governance, employment practices and all other operations, and the charter school’s curriculum must be completely secular. However, like other public schools, charter schools may enter into partnerships with any community group for secular purposes.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Charter schools in Utah can be authorized by one of the following: The State Charter School Board (SCSB), a local school board, or a board of trustees of a higher education institution that authorizes the establishment of a charter school. Utah’s legislation does not place a limit on the number of charter schools that can open in the State. Even so, the number of students authorized is projected annually, with priority given to high growth areas.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
The State Charter School Board (SCSB) is authorized by legislation and its members are appointed by the Governor. The SCSB is required by law to: authorize and promote the establishment of charter schools; annually review and evaluate the performance of schools they authorize; monitor their charter schools for compliance with federal and state laws, rules and regulations; provide technical support regarding charter schools; make recommendations on legislation, rules, and funding pertaining to charter schools.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
An application to establish a charter school may be submitted by an individual, a group of individual, or a nonprofit legal entity organized under Utah law. An authorized charter school may apply under this chapter for a charter form another charter school authorizer.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
There are several factors that influence where a charter school chooses to locate. The availability of land and/or facilities is one important factor. Charter schools also focus on neighborhoods with a need for additional high-quality school options, and they often locate where there is a demonstrated need for the school model they plan to offer.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
In order to build strong community relationships and serve as a community anchor, successful schools must engage their community throughout the process. We encourage schools to both authentically engage their neighborhoods and build a local board reflective of their community.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the designation of Highly Qualified is no longer required. However, Utah charter schools may only employ educators who hold valid teaching certificates or who meet USBE requirements for alternative certification or authorization. A charter school may not employ an educator whose license has been suspended or revoked by the State Board of Education.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
On the whole, charter schools are funded with taxpayer dollars, much like traditional districts. Charter schools are funded on the principle that state funds follow the student. Due to the configuration of charter schools versus traditional districts, students are funded at different percentages based on the grade level of the student. A charter school may not charge tuition or require students or parents to make donations and is subject to the same rules regarding school fees as other public schools.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A charter is a contract between a charter school and the authorizer, setting forth the conditions under which the school will operate. The charter should include detailed information about the school, including • The ages or grade levels to be served • Projected maximum student enrollment and projected enrollment each of the first 3 years of operation • The way the school will be governed • The budget and other financial matters • Provisions for financial audits and annual reports • The school’s mission, educational goals, and curriculum • Plans for community outreach, including distribution of information about charter schools to interested parties, charter school opening dates, and how to apply for admission • Methods for student assessment, if any, in addition to participation in the statewide public education assessment program and end-of-level core curriculum assessments • Admission, suspension, and dismissal procedures including a student discipline and conduct policy • Procedures for reviewing parents’ complaints about the school • Opportunities for involving parents • Insurance for the school, its employees and governing body • The school calendar, including the length of the school day and school year • Plans for extracurricular activities, if any • District in which school will be located and physical facilities' address, if known at time of application • Educator qualifications

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A charter is valid until revoked or according to the terms set forth in the issued charter.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Charter schools have their own governing boards and most operate independently of local school districts. The Utah State Board of Education and the State Charter School Board have oversight responsibility for charter schools and annually review the progress of every charter school.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A charter school authorizer may terminate a school’s charter and stop funding, effectively closing the school, for failure to meet the requirements stated in the charter, failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, designation as a low performing school, failure to improve the school’s grade, violation of requirements under the law, or other good cause shown. A charter school may provide notice to its authorizer that it is relinquishing its charter.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Please visit our "Start a School" tab at utahscsb.org for details regarding this process.

Contact Marie Steffensen at 801-538-7990 or marie.steffensen@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A Comprehensive Review is a review occurring once in a five-year period, where, SCSB staff will assess school specific goals in the Charter Agreement, fidelity to the school’s Charter Agreement, long-term enrollment and financial trends, and governing board performance (focusing on the certifications in the annual review). Data for this review is taken from existing sources to reduce the amount of work of school personnel. SCSB staff may conduct an onsite school visit or request data on school goals not otherwise available through existing reports. In addition, SCSB staff will attend regularly scheduled governing board meetings and review meeting agendas and materials made available to the public according to statute. Thus, the burden to schools is minimal.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
The State Charter School Board is obligated under administrative rule R277-553-2(4) to conduct “a comprehensive review of governing board performance at least once every five year.” To comply with this rule, the SCSB has developed the Comprehensive Board Review.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A charter school governing board can expect SCSB staff to attend two to three board meetings to evaluate charter school board performance. The data from board meeting observations are documented in a report. Additionally, the SCSB staff will conduct a site visit to review key elements and confirm annual certifications. The report will then be presented to governing boards in a subsequent board meeting.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Most of the work for the Comprehensive Review is completed behind the scenes by SCSB staff collecting data from sources already submitted by the school or LEA. In addition to this work, SCSB staff will conduct a site visit where they will be looking for key elements listed in the charter agreement or Exhibit A.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
No, an accreditation visit is more of an evaluation of a school’s academic program by a outside party. A Comprehensive Review is a review of governing board performance conducted by the school’s authorizer to ensure charter fidelity and general compliance.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
Each charter school authorized by the SCSB is placed into a cohort based on the first school year in operation. From that school year, governing board reviews will occur at year three, year five, and every five years thereafter. A calendar of these cohorts is posted here as well as on the utahscsb.org website. Schools beyond three years in operation will not have a year three comprehensive board review but will be placed in their cohort for the next year five comprehensive board review.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
The SCSB Oversight and Compliance Coordinator or designee, will contact the charter school governing board chair and charter school director during the charter school’s review year to schedule a date for a site visit. At this site visit SCSB staff will verify implementation of the charter school’s key elements. Once the comprehensive board review is complete, the SCSB Oversight and Compliance Coordinator or designee will also schedule a time to present to the charter school governing board the results of the Comprehensive Board Review.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
The results will be presented in a final report that will indicate areas of strength, weakness and action items for the charter school governing board. Strengths are areas in which the charter school governing board is meeting expectations. Weaknesses are areas in which the charter school governing board can focus on or improve. Action items are items that must be resolved by the charter school governing board by a specific date determined by the SCSB Oversight and Compliance Coordinator or designee.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
The results of the Governing Board Review will be presented to the charter school governing board in governing board meeting. This presentation will focus on strengths, weaknesses and action items for the governing board to use to improve their performance. The school director and governing board chair will be notified prior to the governing board meeting.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
A Governing Board Review does not necessarily “go bad”. The report will identify weaknesses or action items for the governing board to correct. SCSB staff will work closely with the charter school governing board chair and director to establish a timeline and expectations for these action items.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
No, not necessarily. The results of the Comprehensive Review are presented in a report detailing strengths, weaknesses and action items. If weaknesses and actions items are detailed in the report, SCSB staff will work closely with the charter school governing board chair and director to establish a timeline and expectations for these action items. If the charter school governing board chair or school director takes no action to remedy the weaknesses or actions items discussed, or if SCSB staff requests for corrective action are ignored, SCSB staff may recommend that the charter school governing board to be brought before the SCSB for consideration of further corrective action.

Contact Brendan McGinn at (999)999-9999 or Brendan.McGinn@schools.utah.gov for more information.
As a charter authorizer, the SCSB monitors schools for compliance to federal and state laws, rules, and regulations. The SCSB does not govern or manage charter schools. The SCSB encourages you to work directly with your school to resolve any concerns. Each school should have a grievance policy on their website that can direct you to the appropriate steps and individuals that should be involved in addressing your concern. Most often, a grievance policy will have you address the concern first with the individual staff member, teacher, or administrator. If no resolution is reached, often a grievance policy will advise you to contact the school's governing board. If you have been unable to reach a resolution with your school and you have followed the school's grievance policy, you may submit a complaint by using the form given by the Utah State Board of Education Hotline.

Contact Jenna Magnetti at 801-538-7732 or Jenna.Magnetti@schools.utah.gov for more information.
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