KAYSVILLE -- By next autumn, classrooms will sprout amid the basketball courts, weight rooms and soccer fields inside the sprawling Kaysville SportsPlex.
Baer Canyon High School for Sports and Medical Science, a charter school, began enrolling students last week and is intended to open by August.
School officials said the medical science emphasis will be woven into curriculum partly through course work, but primarily through a series of partnerships with health care professionals.
"There's such a need for that type of thing," said Ryan Lunt, chairman of the school's board of directors, referring to the sports and medical sciences.
Lunt said the scaling back of medical education programs for high school students, and a lack of nearby charter high schools to pick up students topping out at the area's middle school charters, prompted several parents to form Baer Canyon.
"We settled in on medical science," Lunt said, noting that he and the other board members wanted to craft a "unique" educational experience for their children.
While the school's core curriculum won't deviate far from that of the area's other high schools, Lunt said, medical and sports sciences will be a focus.
In addition to offering such classes as medical anatomy, Lunt said the school is cultivating partnerships with nearby physicians, who will often make classroom visits. He said students will also have the opportunity to job shadow nutritionists, physical therapists and trainers who work at the SportsPlex, 1188 SportsPlex Drive, adjacent to Flint Street and Flint Meadows Street.
"That's the difference, that kids are going to have access to these kinds of professionals," Lunt said. "These kids can see it firsthand and can experience it."
For Lunt, a parent of four, whose oldest daughter will attend Baer Canyon, the charter high school has an added benefit. He said all of his children attend kindergarten through ninth-grade charter schools, and, until now, there have been few local charter school options at the high school level.
With Baer Canyon, Lunt said, parents whose children have grown up in a charter school atmosphere may no longer be faced with sending their children to the area's large public high schools.
"There's so many students that the opportunities are limited," Lunt said of public schools.
According to Lunt, many parents choose charter schools because they often have smaller class sizes. And, like Baer Canyon, charter schools typically provide students with the chance to focus on a particular topic.
Kara Finley, of Academica West, a firm that manages local charter schools, including Baer Canyon, said among the charter schools that have an educational focus are: Oquirrh Mountain, which focuses on American history; Syracuse Arts Academy; and North Davis Preparatory Academy, which offers Spanish language immersion programs.
The state has capped Baer Canyon's enrollment at 1,080 students, although it won't likely reach that number for several years. Finley said the school will consist only of 10th- and 11th-graders this year, and will open to 12th-graders during the 2012-2013 school year. Enrollment is open but will be restricted to a lottery process.
Because charter schools are publicly funded and often compete with more established public schools for students and money, there can be some friction.
However, Shauna Lund, a spokeswoman for Davis School District, said the district has a good relationship with the area's charter schools and doesn't anticipate any issues with Baer Canyon, even if it eventually reaches its enrollment cap.
"It's really hard to gauge, when they get to full capacity, what the impact on the school district will be," Lund said, noting that Davis School District grows by 600 to 1,000 students each year, and if anything, charter schools have taken pressure off the district to build new schools. "Davis school district has a really good relationship with charter schools in our district."
Because the word "sports" appears in the school's name, Lunt said, it's possible some could believe Baer Canyon has its eye on becoming a sports juggernaut.
"We hope the message is loud and clear that that's not what we're all about," he said. We want to become "a sports science school, not an elite sports school."
But that's not to say the school won't field sports teams. Lunt said Baer Canyon hopes to eventually become a member of the Utah High School Activities Association and compete with similar-sized schools.
But while he repeatedly emphasized that the school wouldn't focus on sports, he said it's possible that physical education classes could emphasize a single sport, such as soccer, for example.
"We hope to run the gamut of the high school experience, just on a much smaller scale," Lunt said.
Administrators at Baer Canyon High School for Sports and Medical Science are hosting a "Cottage Meeting" at noon Saturday at the SportsPlex in Kaysville to meet with prospective students and parents. A second informational meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5.