State board reverses decision to close charter school

Holladay » Beehive academy will be open next year.
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The Utah Charter School Board has reversed its decision to close Beehive Science & Technology Academy in Holladay.

In April, the board pointed to struggling finances as a reason to revoke Beehive's charter. It was the first time in the board's six-year history it had decided to shut down an operational school.

Afterward, Beehive's administration complained the decision was based on outdated financial reports without an opportunity to update state officials.

On Thursday, the charter board had an informational hearing with the school. The board voted to keep the academy open but on probation.

The board plans to discuss the terms of Beehive's probation on July 15.

"Beehive is pleased with the Charter School Board's decision to affirm Beehive's charter," Principal Murat Biyik said via e-mail on Thursday. "We are excited and confident that our faculty and our students and their families will work to make the 2010-2011 school year the best yet."

Founded by a group of Turkish-American scholars, Beehive serves 199 students in grades 7 through 12, with a science and technology focus.

Last fall, the charter board, after a months-long investigation, cleared Beehive of allegations the public school existed to advance and promote Islamic beliefs but flagged it for poor financial management. In February, the five-year-old school first was placed on probation due to the financial concerns.

The public charter school, which receives state funds on a per pupil basis, could be on better financial footing if it reached its capacity of 250 students, the charter board said. The board also has pointed to an expensive lease agreement for the school's building as reason for concern.

Beehive renegotiated the lease this year, saving $10,000 a month, according to Biyik. The school also plans to add portable classrooms to the campus to increase capacity by 100 students.

Leah Anderson, a parent of a seventh-grader at Beehive, said she thinks the school has been "unfairly targeted."

The school, which has a good academic record, has been a good fit for her son, C.P., she said. He dreams of being an aeronautical engineer and transferred to Beehive from a private school.

"He gets to do a lot of extra math stuff and science," she said. "The teachers have been fantastic."

What's next for Beehive?

Probation » Beehive Science & Technology Academy will discuss the terms of its probation with the Utah Charter School Board on July 15. The school is allowed to open for the 2010-11 school year.