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About Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools of choice. They are granted a specific amount of autonomy to make decisions concerning the structure, curriculum, and educational emphasis of the school. Charter schools are held accountable for the academic achievement of the students in the school.

Yes. Like other public schools, charter schools are open to every child regardless of religion, race, disability, or academic ability. However, many charter schools have specific educational missions focusing on particualar topics. Charter schools have an enrollment capacity which limits the number of students the school can enroll.

A charter school functions as its own district, which provides greater flexibility in curriculum adoption, increased opportunity for local input, more parental involvement, and a ability to specialize in the school’s area of chosen focus.

Students tend to be motivated by an interest in the focus or teaching method of the school instead of proximity to the nearest traditional public school.

No. Charter schools are public schools and may not charge tuition or require students or parents to make monetary contributions (although donations are accepted and appreciated). Charter schools are subject to the same rules regarding school fees as other public schools.

Charter schools are funded on the principle that state funds follow the student. A differentiated weighted pupil unit (WPU) is applied to charter school students. In accordance with the provisions of the Minimum School Program Act that govern distribution of funds to charter schools, the vast majority of funding comes through this WPU calculation. In addition, the legislature appropriates funds each year to replace some of the local property tax revenues that are not available to charter schools. Charter schools may also apply for state and federal start-up funds and specialized funds if qualifying students are served in approved programs.

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.

Research has shown that students perform better when parents/guardians are involved in their child’s education.  We welcome parents, stepparents, grandparents, adult siblings, and other extended family members as volunteers at Early Light Academy.

Yes. Charter schools are public schools and have the same requirements as all Utah public schools in regards to student testing.

Consistent with all public schools in Utah, all of ELA’s teachers will be licensed, certified teachers. They may alternatively be qualified to teach under the Utah State Office of Education’s Alternative Route to Licensure Program, or otherwise authorized through the Utah State Office of Education.

Teachers and paraprofessionals meet USBE Highly Qualified Teacher requirements or are on an approved path for becoming highly qualified. 

Services provided by paraprofessionals are under the direct supervision of and in close proximity to a highly qualified teacher.  

Parents have the right to request and receive information on the qualifications of their children’s teacher(s).  Parents can read teacher bios on the school website and contact the Director Schmidt, in the main office for more information regarding teacher licensing and paraprofessional highly qualified status.

ELA is managed by Academica West. Academica West provides charter schools with comprehensive services and support. The company maintains a reputation of excellence and currently serves multiple operational charter schools throughout Utah. Academica West ensures that each of its client charter schools is professionally managed and operated in compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. This begins with facilitating the completion and timely filing of all financial and programmatic reports to proper governmental agencies. In addition, Academica West provides human resources development, board trainings, payroll, annual financial audit support, professional accounting services, internal control development, and curriculum support among many other services. Most importantly, Academica West will work diligently to ensure the vision of ELA is faithfully and effectively implemented.

Further information about charter schools can be found at the following websites:
• Utah State Office of Education
• Utah Association of Public Charter Schools