First charter school to open in Park City |

First charter school to open in Park City

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

State education officials have approved plans to create the first charter school in the Park City area. The Weilenmann School of Discovery is expected to open in Pinebrook August 2010.

"It’s a big undertaking but we’re getting a great response and a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of parents very excited to bring their children," said Merry Fusselmann, president of the Weilenmann School of Discovery Board of Trustees.

She said she hopes the school begins with about 550 students in kindergarten through the fifth grade.

"We are building a charter school that will eventually be for (kindergarten through eighth grade,)" Fusselmann said. "We are a tuition-free public school that is independent of a school district."

The Weilenmann calendar will align with the Park City School District’s and the school year begins Aug. 23, 2010, she said.

The public funds independently operated charter schools with state and federal tax monies, Fusselmann explained.

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"Charter schools are very popular throughout the whole United States," she said.

Parkite Anne-Marie Buckland said her child will attend the Weilenmann School of Discovery.

"Our school is starting to fill up," said Buckland, who helps recruit students to Weilenmann. "And this community really needs this choice in education."

A nationwide search has helped narrow the field of applicants vying to be principal of the Weilenmann school to two, she explained.

"That’s going to be a big deal," Buckland said.

Buckland did not comment about how much the building will cost.

Officials will introduce the charter for the Weilenmann School of Discovery Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. at The Yard, 1251 Kearns Boulevard in Park City.

"Our charter talks about our mission, our philosophy, our curriculum," Fusselmann said. "It is very inclusive of what you can expect to have happen at the Weilenmann School of Discovery."

Charter documents and other information about Weilenmann are online at

Meanwhile, the school’s architecture will reflect the contour of the land with large windows for views of the mountains, Buckland said.

"The school actually descends as the hill goes down, which allows sort of a natural indoor amphitheater to occur in the school itself," she said. "Every classroom has a nature view. Can you imagine you are sitting there and a moose walks by and the whole class sees it?"

Buckland said she expects crews to break ground on the 55,000-square-foot school near the Gorgoza Tubing Park on Kilby Road this month.

"Our school is really about a choice We’re really reinventing the way learning is taking place," Buckland said. "Charter schools, in general, outperform traditional public schools It’s less bureaucratically driven and much more driven by research and proven trends."

Educators at the new school will have to be comfortable teaching science and the arts, she explained.

"I feel like my child deserves to have an arts program and I would like to choose a school that has an incorporated arts program and a more modern approach to technology," Buckland said. "For families that want something different, they now can have a choice."