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As the number of charter schools in Utah has grown, so, too, has the realization that rules and regulations governing the schools are incomplete, says Carol Lear, Utah State Office of Education attorney.
In response, the Utah State Board of Education on Thursday enacted new, more comprehensive rules covering procedures to be followed by the state charter school board, orientation and training for charter school founders, procedures for remedying financial deficiencies at charter schools and requirements for parental involvement in charter schools.
The state board also set timelines for opening new charter schools. During the past several years, some charter schools have opened only a few months after their applications were approved.
Board members said the hasty openings have resulted in schools opening without adequate preparation, leaving communities without sufficient time to work out zoning and building issues.
Under the newly enacted rules, applications for new schools must be approved by Sept. 30 of the school year prior to the school year in which a school expects to open. State charter-school director John Broberg said that even more time - perhaps 18 months - is needed for charter-school founders to receive training, submit requests for state and federal funding, obtain facilities, hire staff and acquire equipment.
Despite recent controversy generated when Draper's American Preparatory Academy sought to create a satellite campus in Utah County without applying for a new charter, the state board delayed creating rules to regulate satellite campuses of existing charter schools.
After studying the issue during the summer, the board will reconsider rule-making for satellite campuses in August.