Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Charter School?
A charter school is an independently run public school granted greater flexibility in its operations, in return for greater accountability for performance. The “charter” establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.
Who attends charter schools? Whom do they serve?
Nationwide, students in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics to students in the local public schools. In some states, charter schools serve significantly higher percentages of minority or low-income students than the traditional public schools. Charter schools accept students by random, public lottery.
What is the difference between charter schools and other public schools?
Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. They operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon district schools. Charter schools are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. They must demonstrate performance in the areas of academic achievement, financial management, and organizational stability. If a charter school does not meet performance goals, it may be closed.
Who authorizes charter schools?
This varies from state to state, depending on the state’s charter law. In New York, there are three authorizers: the New York State Board of Regents, the State University of New York Board of Trustees, and local boards of education. In New Jersey, there is one authorizer, the state Commissioner of Education. In Massachusetts, the authorizer is the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
How are charter schools funded?
As public schools, charter schools are tuition-free. They are funded according to enrollment levels and receive public funds on a per pupil basis. In some states, such as Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, and New Jersey, they receive less than 100% of the funds allocated to their traditional counterparts for school operations. In other states, such as California, additional funds or loans are made available to them. In most states, charters do not receive capital funds to support facility expenses. Charter schools are entitled to federal categorical funding for which their students are eligible, such as Title I and Special Education monies. Federal legislation provides grants to help charters to manage start-up costs.
Why Charter Schools?
- Provide more flexibility on curriculum, budget and staffing.
- Have greater ability to make quick and effective changes to meet a student’s need.
- Have a high level of accountability with review and renewal every 5 years.
- Are able to engage teachers who are empowered to make important decisions to benefit students.
- Encourage parents to work as a team with teachers to advance their child’s academic progress.