What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are independent public schools that operate under a contract or charter. With their rigorous curriculum programs, and unique educational approaches such as longer school days and a longer school year, charter schools offer quality and choice in the public education system.
Charter schools trade operational freedom and flexibility for higher levels of accountability than traditional public schools. Each charter school’s success is based on how well it meets the academic performance goals established in its charter, and how the school manages its fiscal and operational responsibilities.
Following are some quick facts you can use when talking about charter schools.
How are charter schools funded?
As public schools, charter schools are funded by public tax dollars. It is important to note that because not all monies received by a school district are included in the calculation, charter schools receive only between 60-80% of what district schools receive per pupil.
How are students admitted to charter schools?
Any child eligible for admission to a traditional public school is eligible for admission to a public charter school. All charter schools must enroll students through a blind lottery.
Can charter schools charge tuition?
No. As public schools, charter schools cannot charge tuition.
Do public charter schools receive state building aid or other public funds that public school districts receive for capital purposes?
No. State building aid is not included in the formula for identifying per pupil aid, nor are charter schools eligible to receive other public funds that school districts have access to for capital construction and renovation.
Is there a time limit for a school’s charter?
Yes. Charters are issued for a period not to exceed five years. A charter may also be renewed for up to five years.
Why charter schools?
All children – not just wealthy children - should have the opportunity to attend a school that prepares them for college and the work force. Charter schools provide families with a choice between traditional district schools and a different kind of public school. Learning is not one-size-fit-all and as such charters in many communities offer families an alternative to what their home school district provides.
Charters provide parents with the empowerment to make their own decisions for their child’s education. They also provide communities with more educational choices within the public education system. Charters have the ability to innovate and reflect the needs of the community, so if a founding team sees a need for STEM schools, or single-gender schools, for instance, they can move to fill those voids.
In some of the most underserved communities in the nation, charters are some of the highest performing public schools there are. If and when they do not meet their goals, they close, making them also the most accountable public schools there are.
Charters are also working to closing the achievement gap -- that is, the persistent disparity in student achievement between groups of students, especially those defined by socioeconomic status and/or race and ethnicity.