New Utah charter school hopes to serve refugees, immigrants
Education • "International" school says it will offer secondary students a global perspective.
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Granite School District has approved a charter for a new public school that plans to serve refugees, immigrants and students interested in an education with a "global perspective."

Utah International School (UIS), a secondary charter school, is scheduled to debut in August 2013 in South Salt Lake, leasing the site of Granite's Hartvigsen School after it moves into new digs. There are 78 charter schools in Utah. Most are authorized by the Utah State Charter School Board, but several are approved by school districts as allowed by state law.

UIS sought charter approval from Granite district to foster "closer collaboration" with the district, which serves 759 refugee students, said Linda Barth, chairwoman of the UIS board.

Barth previously was the coordinator of Granite's Newcomer Academy, a program that served newly arrived immigrants and refugees. Granite closed the academy in 2010 amid a federal Office of Civil Rights investigation into complaints that the program segregated minority students. Some of the services, including interpreters, were shifted to Cottonwood High.

A charter school would not be seen as segregation because students opt into the school, Granite staff noted, according to Granite board meeting minutes.

"As a public charter, we're open to everybody," Barth said in an interview. "We hope to have a lot of refugee students and English language learners. We really hope a lot of native English speakers will be attracted to a school that will offer an international perspective … [including] learning foreign languages and going to school with kids from all over the world."

Initially, the school plans to open with seventh through 10th grades, adding 11th and 12th grades later for an enrollment of up to 500 students. Class sizes would be limited to 20 students, with teams of teachers staying with a cohort of students for two years.

Students would not be separated into remedial or honors tracks. Core academics would be taught with an eye toward vocabulary development and lessons enhanced by visual aids.

The school plans to have interpreters available to help students and parents, along with a social worker, refugee liaison and counselors. Utah International also is working with United Way, the State Office of Refugee Services and others to develop a community center at the school. The center would offer year-round educational and medical services for students and their families.

rwinters@sltrib.com —

About Utah International School

What • A charter school, grades 7-12, serving refugees, immigrants and students interested in a "global perspective."

Opening • August 2013.

Where • The soon-to-be former Hartvigsen School building, 350 E. 3605 South, South Salt Lake. (Hartvigsen, Granite's special-needs school, is moving to a new location.)

Contact • For more information, contact Linda Barth, saltlakeinternationalhs@gmail.com.