What makes Ascent Academies of Utah unique?

Ascent Academies of Utah (AAU) is a network of public charter schools that provides students with a strong academic program that: (a) includes enrichment opportunities built upon each student’s individual strengths and talents; and (b) provides educators with unique opportunities to increase their effectiveness through ongoing professional development and collaboration. AAU integrates the Schoolwide Enrichment Model’s (SEM) research-based strategies with curriculum and instructional methods aligned to the Utah Core Standards in order to provide students throughout the network with engaging learning opportunities.
What is a charter school?

Charter schools are publicly funded and are not private schools. They are authorized to operate as a public school by the Utah State Office of Education and are open to all students. Charter schools were created to improve public education, and they demonstrate a record of student achievement and have specific educational missions and focuses. Like other public schools, charter schools may serve students from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
What is the purpose of a charter school?

Charter schools offer parents and students additional choices about where students attend school and the school’s curricular emphasis. They allow educators freedom to try new strategies to inspire students and to experiment with innovative ways of educating students. Also, charter schools allow individuals and organizations outside of the traditional education system to create and run public schools.
How do charter schools benefit the community?

Besides offering choice in public education, charter schools relieve some of the overcrowding in existing district schools without placing undue burdens on taxpayers. As non-profit organizations, charter schools raise funds or secure private financing for their facilities without bonds or tax levies. A charter school is one less school for which district will ask for a bond.

As schools of choice, meaning parents choose them, charter schools provide an incentive to other public schools to be more responsive to parents and students, and to evaluate performance and available educational offerings. The presence of charter schools in a community often results in increased performance from all surrounding schools.

How do charter schools offer enhanced academic programs with the same (or fewer) resources than public schools?

Charter schools utilize volunteer service and parent involvement combined with autonomous, community-based operations to operate more efficiently. Through the combined efforts and hard work of dedicated parents, teachers, and administrators, charter schools can use their funds effectively and creatively to educate students.
Can anyone attend a charter school?

Yes! Similar to traditional public schools, charter schools must be open to every child regardless of race, religion, disability, or academic ability. However, charters have an enrollment capacity which limits the number of students the school can enroll. As a result, students are placed into a randomized lottery if there are more applications than spots available.
What are the main differences between charter schools and traditional public schools?

A charter school operates as its own school district, and this provides greater flexibility in curriculum adoption, increased opportunity for local input, more parental involvement, and the ability to fine tune its educational model/methodology to meet the needs of its specific student population. Students that attend a charter school tend to be motivated by an interest in the focus or teaching method of the school instead of attending a given school based on proximity to the nearest district facility. In addition, charter schools have an enrollment capacity which promotes smaller classroom sizes and lower student/teacher ratios.
What is the age deadline for enrolling my student in Kindergarten?

Students must be five (5) years old on or before September 1st to enroll in Kindergarten.
Does AAU charge tuition?

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.
How are Charter Schools funded?

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.

Are parents welcome to volunteer?

Yes! Parent involvement is a crucial element in student success. AAU suggests that families volunteer a minimum of thirty (30) hours per academic year. Please note this expectation is per family, and not based on the number of students enrolled per family. Many volunteer opportunities will be available to families, but volunteering is optional – not required for your students continuous enrollment. Most of all, we ask for parents to support their students academic learning.
Do charter schools have the same testing requirements as traditional public schools?

Yes. Charter schools are public schools and have the same student testing requirements as all Utah public schools.
What are AAU's credential requirements for teachers?

Consistent with all public schools in Utah, AAU’s teachers are licensed teachers or they are 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. Charter schools hire from the same pool of qualified and certified teachers as districts.
How do I find out what qualifications my child's teacher holds?

Parents have the right to request and receive information on the qualifications of their child’s teacher.  If you have any questions or want more information, please contact the Campus Director or refer to the student information system.
Does AAU operate on a standard or year-round schedule?

The enrollment of AAU is limited to a specific capacity, making a year-round schedule unnecessary. AAU will operate on a standard nine-month school schedule.
Will there be bus transportation for AAU students?

Ascent Academies’ enrollment is open to all Utah students regardless of proximity to the school; consequently, transportation cannot be provided by the school or the local school district. With the exception of field trips, parents are responsible for the transportation of their student to and from the school and are encouraged to participate in carpools.
Is there a Special Education Program?

Yes! Ascent Academies has a special education team employed to address the needs of students who qualify for services. AAU operates in compliance with all applicable state and federal special education laws and strives to accommodate all students’ needs.
There isn't an AAU Campus near me, will that change?

Ascent Academies of Utah’s mission is to create a network of schools that incorporates the research-based strategies of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. As the school looks at expanding to future locations, we will review current enrollment applications and location needs to help us determine where to open new campuses. For now, we encourage you to enroll at the AAU Campus closest to you.
Are Board Members compensated for their work?

Members of the Board of Directors are volunteers that donate hundreds of hours to further the cause of providing a quality education to students and address unmet needs in the educational system. Board Members receive no compensation for their service.
Where can I get additional information on Charter Schools?

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