As fresh snow fell on the vacant slopes Monday morning, students filled the classrooms and welcomed new head of school, Dave Kaufman, during the first day of the 2013 school year.
"It was a bittersweet day on a few fronts," Kaufman said. "Sweet that we are all starting a new year together at the Winter Sports school and bitter that the ski season has come to an end and we are getting all this fresh powder. Rob [Clayton] also gave his farewell speech, which was an emotional moment. People are sad to see him leave, but I am getting a great welcome from the students."
Not only are students welcoming a new leader, they and the school are adopting a new title: Charter School.
With Rob Clayton's departure from the school for an executive director position with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation in Idaho, Kaufman's main objective when taking over the reins was to lead the school through the next phase of its evolution.
Earlier in the year, the school took its first steps toward joining the ranks of many state-funded schools in the area and sent requests to the Utah State Charter Board which unanimously approved the school's application. Final endorsement was in the hands of the Utah State Office of Education, who earlier this month also validated the application, officially giving the private school charter status as of the 2014-15 school year.
According to Kaufman, on April 5, the Office of Education notified the Winter School, causing a lot of excitement about anticipated changes the new title can bring for the school, which will now receive state funding.
"A lot of the community thought we had this wrapped up in February, but we had a long way to go," Kaufman said. "We have a lot of physical changes we want to make to the school with anticipated student body growth, but offering this type of education to Utah students for free is big, and there is much to do."
A meeting is being held this Thursday, April 18, from 6 to 7 p.m., on the second floor of the Day Lodge at the Utah Olympic Park to discuss changes being made to the school.
According to Kaufman, the meeting is intended to discuss all of the new changes that will be completed in the coming year. Clayton will also be in attendance with Kaufman. He is sticking around for another month before leaving for Idaho.
"The next steps we are making are crucial for the school and will be the focal point of the discussion. A lot of questions will arise concerning the current changes and Rob and I will be available to help the community in this transition," Kaufman said. "The school's facility will need to be addressed. I'm afraid we will be violating every fire code in the book with the buildings we have now."
Currently the student body consists of 60 winter athletes. According to Kaufman, the school was approved for 40 more students next year and plans to grow to 200 in the coming years.
The independent school first opened its doors in 1994, and provides a college preparatory academic program for grades 9 through 12. Classes are held mid-April through mid-November, giving students time during the winter months to train and compete in winter sports disciplines.
"This is a great opportunity for the school and we hope we can get the community with us in out coming efforts," Kaufman said.