Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FILE - Canyon Rim Academy third grade teacher Paige Heyn applauds student Sydney Johnson in Millcreek Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.

SALT LAKE CITY — The House Education Committee on Wednesday endorsed a two-word amendment to the state statute on charter school enrollment. The small change will make a big difference to Canyon Rim Academy, the charter school's founder says.

Under existing law, charters can give enrollment preference to students who live “within a 2-mile radius” of the charter school if the neighborhood school is at or over capacity.

HB245 changes the language to include the words "up to," which would allow charter schools to prioritize lesser distances within the 2-mile radius.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, said the existing statute has been interpreted legally as "it's everything within 2 miles or nothing. It's just 2 miles or nothing. It's not increments within the 2 miles."

Erik Olson, founder and board chairman of Canyon Rim Academy, said establishing a smaller geographic preference would enable the charter school to "open the door to students from high risk and underserved areas."

The academy was established 12 years ago following Granite School District's closure of Canyon Rim Elementary School.

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"The State Board of Education gave us a geographic enrollment preference with a dual goal: on the one hand, to maintain that small core community population that had lost the ability to have an immediately available community school and secondly to be able to then open the door to people in underserved or high-risk areas who wanted to be able to get into the school," Olson said.

The problem is, there are several other Granite School District elementary schools within the boundary, which "has prevented anyone outside the radius from getting into our schools," he said.

The committee approved the bill unanimously, sending it to the House for further consideration.