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March 28, 2013
New Scholar Academy charter school gets state approval, slated to open Fall 2014

Sandy Shepard

Sandy Shepard

Parents in Tooele County will have another choice for their child’s education starting in fall 2014.

An application to start a new charter school by a group of Tooele County residents received approval from the State Charter School Board on March 14. The new school’s name is Scholar Academy.

“I saw a need for another charter school in Tooele County,” said Sandy Shepard, president of the board of directors for Scholar Academy. “I had parents, who know me from when I worked in the Tooele County School District, approach me and suggest that the county needed another option for students.”

Scholar Academy’s charter application indicates the board plans to open in the fall of 2014 with 534 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The school is expected to grow to a maximum of 753 students in the fall of 2017 after adding seventh and eighth grades.

“There are several things that will make Scholar Academy unique,” said Shepard.

Specifically, she said, teachers will guide students using creative problem solving and cooperative learning; teachers will have individualized personal development plans and receive performance pay; students will be involved in service learning and work on Destination Imagination projects [a program that involves teams of students working on science, technology, engineering, and math challenges]; and foreign language instruction will start in sixth grade.

The location of the school has not been determined and the board is exploring methods of financing the building’s construction.

The charter application describes a 43,000-square foot building with 24 classrooms, office space, a kitchen and cafeteria, media center, computer lab, and a student commons area.

Shepard has 40 years of experience working in education.

She  has worked in Jordan, Salt Lake City, and Tooele County school districts as a teacher, Title I specialist and as an administrator for 34 years.

Shepard has served as the principal of Tooele High School and was the Tooele County School District’s director of elementary education for two years before becoming the principal of Wasatch Peak Academy, a charter school in North Salt Lake, in 2007.

Also serving on the board of directors for Scholar Academy are Diane Cramer, Joyce James, Dustin Griffith, Linda Hearty, Tom Gregson, Tye Hoffmann, and Sandy Larsen.

Charter schools are publicly funded independent schools authorized by the Utah State Office of Education. They are public and open to all students, charge no tuition and have no geographic boundaries for attendance. They receive monthly funding from the state based upon enrollment.

If more students apply to attend a charter school than its capacity allows, selection of students is done by lottery.

Excelsior Academy, Tooele County’s first and only current charter school, opened in 2009. It was at full capacity with 675 students enrolled last fall and had a waiting list.

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