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Utah: Charter Enrollment Declines for First Time in a Decade

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Charter enrollment declined in Utah for the first time in at least a decade, and no new charters opened.

Enrollment at Utah’s charter schools — which have seen explosive growth in the past as they’ve attempted to be “education’s disruptors” — declined this year for the first time in at least a decade.

The dip is largely unexpected but follows a particularly chaotic year for charters in the state. One was forced to close with millions in debts owed to overseas investors. Another filed for bankruptcy. A third was ordered to shut down after less than two years in operation…

In addition to some schools closing, no new charters opened this fall — which is also a first in the state for at least a decade, Peterson added, and likely contributed to the enrollment decline. Two or three were slated to enroll students in August but pushed back their starting dates over lease, land and building issues.

Royce Van Tassell, executive director of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, said the price of land has gone up in Utah and has put new charters in a challenging spot…

Van Tassell also pointed to the closure of the American International School of Utah, or AISU, for the dip. The Murray charter shut its doors in August in the face of mounting debts. The school owed the state and federal government nearly half a million dollars in misspent funds, according to an audit of its books.It also still faces potentially millions of dollars in other unspecified debt, according to its former spokesman, most of which was spent overseas. It’s likely that will never be repaid.

I was glad to see the reporter refer to charters as”disrupters,” which they are, and not as “reform,” which they are not.

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