St. George Academy optimistic about upcoming appeal hearing

The outside view of St. George Academy, a charter high school for students in grades 8-12, Washington City, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Darren Edwards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In just over a week the St. George Academy will find out whether the Utah Charter School Board will force the school to close its doors or allow it to remain open after the end of the school year.

The state board remains concerned that the public charter school cannot remain financially viable, self-sufficient and in compliance with state and federal guidelines. The state board has voted to close the school pending an appeal hearing on Nov. 13.

Ellen Arch, the academy’s board vice president, is optimistic they are taking all the right steps to remain open following graduation on May 22.

“St. George Academy is not only meeting its academic goals but is providing a safe and supportive learning environment for all of our students,” Arch said. “We have renegotiated our lease agreement and made some changes to our budget that meet the metrics the charter board suggests. We have a strong plan in place to address enrollment as well. All of this can be done without changing or compromising the education and environment that is unique to our school.”

The academy has submitted a budget and enrollment plan consistent with the state’s expectations.

“The State Charter Board is continuing to work with us,” Arch said. “Those interactions have been positive and we are very hopeful.”

With the school’s potential closure looming, many of its current and former students are worried.

“Silent Weekend” conference at Saint George Academy, St. George, Utah, Feb. 23, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“Losing St. George Academy would hurt the community because they provide a vital service,” former student Erin Trauntvein said. “They have the vision to spearhead a new type of education that is something that’s not been done a lot. By losing the school, you would be losing the opportunity for students to have a quality education.”

Trauntvein was a member of the academy’s first graduating class in 2018.

She said the collaboration between students and faculty was great, and the wide variety of classes, including fairytale writing and American sign language, made going to school exciting.

“To end the school before it’s had a chance to prove what it could do would be sad,” Trauntvein said. “To close the school after its third year, the state is not giving them a chance to prove what financial stability they have. Because the state didn’t follow due process, it’s unfair what is taking place.”

Rep. Travis Seegmiller, R-St. George, will be hosting a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the St. George Academy, 380 E. 3090 South, Washington City, Utah.

Seegmiller will meet with students, families, faculty, the administration and the St. George Academy board of directors to hear their concerns prior to the Utah Charter School Board appeal hearing.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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