August 26, 2020

Make the Choice! Charter School vs Public School

charter school vs public school

Are you looking into different schooling options for your children? With so many different schools in Utah, deciding which one is the best choice can take some research. We’re here to give you the pros and cons of public school and charter schools so you can make an educated decision based on your child’s needs. Let’s get started! 

Public Schools in Utah

The first public school in the state of Utah opened its doors in 1891 and was called Salt Lake High School. Utah was actually the last territory in the nation to provide a free public school system. Since then this state has come a long way with 1,049 public schools throughout its borders today.

How Public Schools Operate

side of school bus that says distrcit schools

Public schools are run within school districts that are governed by locally elected school boards and superintendents. A school district could be as large as an entire county or as localized as a portion of a city. A superintendent is in charge of a district. They are responsible for implementing and enforcing the school board’s decisions and running day-to-day operations. Under a superintendent is a principal who sees the day-to-day operations of their school and then the teachers who work directly with students under the supervision of the principal.

How They Are Funded

Public schools are funded by federal, state, and local funding. However, they are primarily funded through local taxes. In Utah, a portion of the revenues from its state income tax and other taxes are dedicated to the public school system.

Entry Into A Public School

By law, all public schools cannot discriminate against and must accept all students in its borders. In fact, Utah requires parents to send their kids to school between the ages of six to 18. There is also no admission fee or enrollment requirements in public schools.

In previous years and by law, you could not choose a public school and were required to send your children to the school assigned to the geographical area you lived in. While that’s still the case, there is a process called open enrollment where you can request to move schools outside your district. It’s first come first serve and requires an application to be submitted. Once the application is submitted and approved by a school administrator, a permit will be issued and the student is held to a higher standard in order to keep the permit. The renewal of a permit occurs every time a student graduates to a higher education institution.

All About A Public School Classroom

kids in classroom

Because traditional public schools are tied to school districts, their curriculums are based on state education standards. This means that these schools must adhere to those set standards and aren’t exempt from any state, federal, or local laws regarding education. Basically, public schools don’t have the freedom to teach what or how they want. They have to stick to traditional teaching methods that may not cater to an individual student’s needs.

Because public schools serve all the kids in their geographical locations, there is no fixed number of students in a classroom. If the number of students exceeds the number that can safely fit in a classroom, another teacher may be hired. If one school’s enrollment number is disproportionately higher than another, boundaries may be moved to better accommodate a school’s capacity.

Teacher Requirements

When it comes to staffing a school, like most US states, Utah requires all teachers/educators to hold a bachelor’s degree, complete an education or licensure program, and pass the required content exams. When pursuing a teacher certification in Utah, teachers must both hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher preparation program that meets state standards for teacher education. For more detailed information, you can visit the Utah Teacher Certification website.

Public School Sports

football, baseball, and soccer ball laying on grass field

In the world of school sports, public schools are placed in divisions by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), which is a leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts in Utah. When placing a school in a division, the UHSAA generally places schools by how many students are enrolled. There are 6 classifications and public schools from all around Utah can be found in any one of these divisions. Different sports at the same school can also be in different divisions based on the number of student-athletes and their performance from the previous season.

Charter Schools in Utah

Now let’s take a look at charter schools in Utah and how they differ from their traditional public school neighbors. In 1991, Minnesota was the first to pass a law for charter schools. Utah didn’t adopt a charter school until 1999 eight years later. Currently, there are 144 charter schools throughout the state of Utah.

How Charter Schools Operate

charter document on desk

According to the Utah State Board of Education, a public school is defined as a school that is open to the public, funded by the public, and accountable to the public. Since charter schools have all three attributes, they’re considered a type of public school. 

Charter schools are run by independent board members who establish a charter contract. Under this charter contract, charter schools are legally bound to uphold and operate the school as stated in that contract.

Entry Into A Charter School

Because charter schools are considered public schools, charter schools cannot charge tuition or impose special entrance requirements. Students are generally admitted through a lottery process if the demand of students wanting to enroll exceeds the number of spaces available in a school. If they don’t get into the school, they are then placed on a waitlist. The waitlist is listed into three categories:

  1. General Waitlist.
  2. Sibling Waitlist (siblings of current students).
  3. Teacher Waitlist (children of current teachers).

Students are selected from the Teacher Waitlist first, the Sibling Waitlist second, and then from the General Waitlist.

At Providence Hall, the lottery happens in February for the next school year but a form needs to be filled out and given around December. Are you thinking about enrolling your child? For more information on this process, check out the blog we wrote that goes through the Providence Hall Charter School lottery system.

All About A Charter School Classroom

teacher talking to kids

 The main reason charter schools were created was to encourage innovation when it came to teaching and curriculum. Charters schools offer parents and students additional choices about the school’s curricular emphasis and where students attend school.

These institutions allow and encourage educators the freedom to try new strategies in order to inspire students and experiment with innovative ways of educating them. Like we mentioned earlier, many students need different teaching methods to learn and retain information better. A charter school strives to create a learning environment suitable for every student, especially since the classroom size is generally smaller. They value a student’s choice to make a decision about what they want to learn and at what pace. 

Did you know that Providence Hall is one of the only schools to offer the IB Programme for both public and charter schools? If you or your child was interested in AP classes, take a look at what the International Baccalaureate Programme can offer!

Charter School Sports

Like traditional public schools, charter schools can also become members of the UHSAA. Because charter schools are generally smaller schools, we compete against other schools that have the same number of students whether they’re traditional or charter schools.

Providence Hall is in the 3a Region Region 13. We play against Grantsville, Judge Memorial, South Summit, and Summit Academy and offer a wide variety of sports. Additionally, we also have a wide range of extracurricular activities for students to find a place they can thrive outside the classroom.

Explore Providence Hall – A Utah Charter School

Are you interested in looking into Providence Hall, give us a call! We would love to chat about the opportunities and possibilities that your child can have here. Until then, we think these blogs would be very helpful to learn more:

Providence Hall About Us

Evaluate Your Child’s Last School Year

Providence Hall Enrollment Program

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Providence Hall Elementary

4795 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801) 727-8282

Providence Hall Junior High

4558 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801)-432-8496

Providence Hall High School

4557 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801) 253-4997