The state of charter schools 03

Students line up during their library hour at Freedom Prep Academy in Provo on March 16, 2017. Students read books together and take time to check out new books from the library. Sammy Jo Hester, Daily Herald

Freedom Preparatory Academy is expanding south.

The Provo-based charter school organization received approval this month from the Utah State Charter School Board to construct a satellite campus in Washington County. The new school will be the third Freedom Preparatory Academy elementary facility and its first building outside of Utah County.

“It allows us to continue what we have found successful in Utah County,” said Cary McConnell, the chair of the Freedom Preparatory Academy governing board.

The Washington County school is planned to open in August 2021 with 375 students. It will expand to 450 in 2023.

The charter school system opened its Vineyard elementary school campus in 2016 and began eyeing other areas with potential for another campus. Its current campuses, which total around 2,000 students, are at capacity.

The system has an elementary, middle and high school campus in Provo, along with the elementary school campus in Vineyard.

The charter network, which started out of a warehouse in Provo in 2003 with 350 students, is used to growth. Its charter — which includes a uniform policy, class sizes of 25 students and aides that help teachers — has attracted students since the beginning.

Washington County is the natural next step, according to Lynne Herring, the executive director of the Freedom Preparatory Academy organization.

“We are down there frequently and we decided to take a hard look at that area and saw the potential there,” she said.

The network does not have current plans to build a high school campus down south.

Herring said that Freedom Preparatory Academy has resources, a solid base of people and knows of former teachers in Washington County.

McConnell expects that former Freedom Preparatory Academy families that now live in Washington County could be interested in attending. He suspects some teachers might move from Provo or Vineyard down south, as well.

The organization’s next step is to find land, create a design for the school and begin advertising to let people know about the school’s model.

As it continues to expand its footprint, Herring said the schools will be focused on making sure the growth doesn’t negatively impact its current campuses.

“We don’t want our expansion to detract from what we do on a daily basis, so that’s our goal,” Herring said.

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