Capstone Classical Academy

Utah orders charter school to shut down at the end of the school year

Dec. 16, 2019
State says Capstone Classical Academy in Pleasant View, Utah, is financially mismanaged and has too few students.

A northern Utah charter school that lost more than $1 million last year — the first year it was open — has been ordered to shut its doors.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah's State Charter School Board has voted unanimously to close Capstone Classical Academy in Pleasant View despite a long line of parents and teachers pleading to keep it open.

State Charter Board members concluded that the school was financially mismanaged, enrolled too few students and was "about to hit a brick wall at 100 miles an hour."

"The school is in so many ways magnificent," said charter school board member Cynthia Philips. "But I'm astounded by the bleak financial future. We have to balance the wonderful idea of these innovative, experimental schools with the reality of the fixed expenses to operate."

The school can appeal the decision to the Utah Board of Education, which oversees the charter board and could reverse the order. If not, though, the academy will have to wrap up operations at the end of the school year in July.

Capstone, which teaches students in sixth through 12th grades, opened in fall 2018. It focuses on a classical curriculum, including Latin, logic, philosophy and music.

State Charter Board Executive Director Jennifer Lambert says the academy spent $3 million last year when it only had $2 million in revenue.

Most of the spending was on the building lease.

"That's going to catch up to them," Lambert says. "A school cannot operate on bare bones."

The charter had 186 students enrolled as of this month. It's break-even number is 260. When it applied for a charter, it expected to have more than 500 kids by the second year.

The charter school board had planned to shut down Capstone in January. But it extended operations to the end of the school year to give parents and students and teachers more time to find new classrooms.

"It's not an easy decision," says the board's vice chairwoman, DeLaina Tonks. "No one wants to see a school close. But the reality is there's not enough money to get through the end of the year."

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