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Davis Journal

Spectrum Academy breaks ground on new state-of-the-art facility

Nov 04, 2022 10:14AM ● By Becky Ginos

NORTH SALT LAKE—Spectrum Academy, a charter school serving students on the autism spectrum, broke ground on a new state-of-the-art STARS (Spectrum Transition and Academic Resource School) building in North Salt Lake that is specially designed for higher needs students. The eighth building between the two campuses in North Salt Lake and Pleasant Grove will expand from 80 students to 170 students kindergarten through age 22.

“The new building will have a lot more facilities,” said Brad Nelson, Spectrum Academy Director of Development. “We’ll have occupational therapists, sensory rooms, speech therapists and applied behavior. All specifically designed for their needs.”

The 30,000 square foot building is like the one at the Pleasant Grove campus that was completed in 2021. “It’s the same type of building as in Pleasant Grove but that one is a little smaller,” said Nelson. “It will be built on the current playing field of the high school on the south east corner. We secured a piece of land long term and we’ll put a new playing field there. It’s directly to the south of the building.”

The new building is projected to be completed by August 2023. “We’re also working on a satellite campus in St. George.”

This facility will allow closer interaction with students that attend in the other building, he said. “That way we’re not constantly transporting students that take some classes there. This brings them all closer together.”

Utah is second in the autism prevalence rate in the nation, Nelson said. “We try to incorporate the educational support tools they need. We have small class sizes of 12-15 students and a teacher and a teacher’s aide in each class. It’s extremely low so teachers can concentrate on the individual students.”

Students with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) can get most of their needs taken care of in a semi-typical environment, he said. “There will be more intensive care students in this building.”

Spectrum Academy is a tuition free public charter school, said Nelson. “When it received its charter we could provide education at no cost. “North Salt Lake has a total of 830 students and Pleasant Grove has 720. There is a wait list of 500 students. This building will help with some of the need.”

The school has gone from 150 students to over 1,600 in both schools in the last nine years, he said. “We’ve seen rapid growth. We were Utah’s first charter school devoted to these special students and because of the great need here in Utah, we are always pursuing ways to expand and grow our services to meet the high demand.”

With one in every 47 Utah children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, Spectrum Academy Charter school moves beyond autism awareness and into action with its customized education approach, Nelson said. “Spectrum Academy specializes in giving students with autism and other developmental delays tools for life.”λ