forms

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Charter School?

Click here for information

What is a Charter School?

A charter school is a privately managed public school. A charter school is funded with public monies and open to students in the district in which it is located. Charter schools are designed by local citizens - including parents, teachers, and community leaders - to fulfill a specific and locally driven educational mission. The academic life, daily operations, and staff are managed by the citizens, educators, and board members responsible for the school itself. The length of time for which charters are granted varies, but most are granted for 3-5 years. At the end of the term, the entity granting the charter may renew the school's contract. For more information check out the PA Coalition of Public Schools website ×

 

What is the purpose of a Charter School?

Click here for information

What is the purpose of a Charter School?

Charter schools enable communities to provide new opportunities for students and innovative approaches to public school education. Charter schools must meet state and district standards for achievement, but can do so with unique educational programs that directly address the needs of their students.

 

By their nature, charter schools foster strong parental and community involvement. The emphasis on innovation also makes them potential models for change at traditional public schools. ×

 

What is the difference between Charter Schools and other public schools?

Click here for information

What is the difference between Charter Schools and other public schools?

Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning teachers and students choose them. They operate with freedom from many regulations that apply to traditional public schools. They generally offer teachers and students more authority to make decisions than most traditional public schools. Instead of being accountable for compliance with rules and regulations, they are accountable for academic results and for upholding their charter.

 

When drafting charter school laws, most states explain their intent to: (1) increase opportunities for learning and access to quality education for all students, (2) create choice for parents and students within the public school system, (3) provide a system of accountability for results in public education, (4) encourage innovative teaching practices, (5) create new professional opportunities for teachers, (6) encourage community and parent involvement in public education, and (7) leverage improved public education broadly. ×

 

Who can attend a Charter School?

Click here for information

Who can attend a Charter School?

Eligibility is usually determined by residence within a locality. In Pennsylvania, students of the school district that grants the charter receive first preference. Students from outside of the district can attend tuition-free on a space-available basis. If there are more applicants than space available, students are selected by lottery. The Tidioute Community Charter School is open to all students in the Warren County, Forest County and Titusville School districts. ×

 

Do Charter Schools have admission policies?

Click here for information

Do Charter Schools have admission policies?

By law, charter schools must have a fair and open admissions process, conducting outreach and recruitment to all segments of the community they serve. When more students apply than can be accommodated, many charters use a lottery to randomly determine which students are accepted. Many charter schools also have waiting lists. ×

 

Do Charter Schools charge admission?

Click here for information

Do Charter Schools charge admission?

Like all public schools, charter schools are free. ×

 

Who grants the charter?

Click here for information

Who grants the charter?

Charter schools apply to the designated chartering agency or agencies as outlined in a state's charter school legislation. An application must describe the school's educational mission and goals and its plans to achieve them. In Pennsylvania, application is made to the local school district granting the charter. ×

 

How do Charter Schools legally operate?

Click here for information

How do Charter Schools legally operate?

Charter schools are governed by the charter school laws of individual states. The Pennsylvania charter school legislation, Act 22 went into effect in 1997. It defines a charter school as an autonomous Local Education Agency (LEA).

 

Charters are required to meet all state laws and regulations protecting the health, safety, and civil rights of their students. These include background checks for all staff and insurance for the school and staff. The schools must also comply with state regulations for the required number of hours and for administering standardized tests that assess achievement.

 

Charter schools must submit yearly reports to the district school board and undergo annual audits. If the school does not meet the goals it sets, the school board may not renew the charter. ×

 

How are Charter Schools funded?

Click here for information

How are Charter Schools funded?

In Pennsylvania, a charter public school receives funding from the school district that grants the charter. The school receives the amount the district would spend on each student, minus the average per-student expenditure for fixed administrative costs. ×

 

What kind of Federal support is there for Charter Schools?

Click here for information

What kind of Federal support is there for Charter Schools?

Through the Public Charter Schools Program, the U.S. Department of Education offers grants to states, which then award subgrants to individual schools to assist them in planning, design, and initial implementation of new charter schools. Pennsylvania received its fourth three year grant for $12 million in June of 2006. Dissemination grants are also available to successful charter schools, with three or more years of experience, to support activities through which they help other groups open new or improve existing public schools. Charter schools are also eligible for funding under other federal programs. ×

 

Who can start a Charter School?

Click here for information

Who can start a Charter School?

In most states, individual citizens, community members, community-based organizations and educators can form the founding group of a charter school. The school must be incorporated as a not-for-profit-entity by the time the charter is issued. In some states, for-profit companies may obtain charters. For additional information on how to start a charter school, go to pacharters.org. PA Charter Schools ×

 

How many Charter Schools are there?

Click here for information

How many Charter Schools are there?

Since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992, the charter school movement has grown to an estimated 5,000 schools operating nationwide in 2009, serving over 1.5 million students. Excerpted from Center for Education Reform. ×

 

Which States have Charter Schools?

Click here for information

Which States have Charter Schools?

As of 2006, 39 states, including the District of Columbia, have passed charter school laws. The states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. ×

 

How can I find a Charter School in my area?

Click here for information

How can I find a Charter School in my area?

To locate a public charter school in your area, go to pacharters.org PA Charter Schools ×

 

How can I find a particular type of Charter School?

Click here for information

How can I find a particular type of Charter School?

To locate a particular type of charter school, go to pacharters.org. PA Charter Schools ×

 

Additionally, the Center for Education Reform publishes the "National Charter School Directory", which provides contact information and profiles of charter schools in operation nationwide. It also provides information on "specially-focused" schools such as Arts-based, Core Knowledge and Montessori schools.

 

How are Charter Schools doing?

Click here for information

How are Charter Schools doing?

Fine... Dr. Carolyn Hoxby, a professor in the Economic Department of Harvard University, has conducted studies that show that charter public schools are performing better than regular public schools when value-added assessment techniques are used. In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a significantly higher percentage of charter public schools in Philadelphia are marking Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) than are regular public schools. Additionally, the same paper reports, charter schools have long waiting lists because families regard them as a safer option than regular public schools. And, the graduation rate of the charter public high schools in Philadelphia is significantly higher than the 51% graduation rate of the regular public schools. True to the charter school standard of accountability, however, a few charters have been revoked due to lack of proper financial management or lack of achievement. ×