What is a Charter School?

FAQ

Charter schools are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that have a contract or charter to provide the same educational services to students as district public schools. They are tuition-free public schools that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.

 

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Who can sponsor charter schools?

In Florida, district school boards are authorized to sponsor charter schools in the county over which the school board has jurisdiction. In addition, a multiple sponsoring state entity, the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission (FSE), was created in 2006 to allow other organizations, including cities, universities, community colleges and regional educational consortia, to co-sponsor charter schools with the FSE.

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Do charter schools charge tuition?

No, charter schools are public schools that receive public funds. They cannot charge tuition for the regular school day. They may charge fees for before and/or after school care.

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What types of students are eligible to attend charter schools?

Charter schools must be open to any student covered in an inter-district agreement or residing in the school district in which the charter school is located. A charter school may limit the enrollment process in order to target the following student populations:

  • students within specific age groups or grade levels
  • students considered at risk of dropping out of school or academic failure

Such students shall include exceptional educational students, students enrolling in a charter school-in-the-workplace or charter school-in-a-municipality.

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What are charter schools?

Charter schools are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that have a contract or charter to provide the same educational services to students as district public schools. They are nonsectarian public schools that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.

Charter schools are accountable to their sponsor, usually a state or local school board, to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract. The basic concept of charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy in return for this accountability. They are accountable for both academic results and fiscal practices to several groups: the sponsor that grants them, the parents who choose them, and the public that funds them.

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What is the purpose of charter schools?

The Florida Charter School Statutes require charter schools to be guided by the following principles:

  • To meet high standards of student achievement while providing parents the flexibility to choose among diverse educational
    opportunities within the state’s public school system
  • To promote enhanced academic success and financial efficiency by aligning responsibility with accountability
  • To provide parents with sufficient information on whether their child is reading at grade level and whether the child gains at least a year’s worth of learning for every year spent in the charter school

Additionally, Florida charter schools are authorized to:

  • Expand the capacity of the public school system
  • Improve student learning and academic achievement
  • Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on low-performing students and reading
  • Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including ownership of the learning program at the school site
  • Encourage the use of innovative learning methods
  • Require the measurement of learning outcomes, along with creating innovative measurement tools
  • Provide rigorous competition within the public school district to stimulate continual improvement in all public schools
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How many charter schools are currently operating in Florida?

In 1996, the initial year in which charter schools were authorized, five charter schools were operating in Florida. In the 2006-2007 school year,there were 355 operating charter schools serving more than 99,000 students. In 2007-08, the number has grown to 362 charter schools serving 104,257 students.

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How are charter schools formed?

According to the Florida statutes, charter schools can be formed by creating a new school or by converting an existing public school to a charter school. An individual, teachers, parents, a group of individuals, a municipality, or a legal entity may create a charter school.
The concept behind the Florida charter school movement is that community-based organizations, colleges and universities create charters schools to serve students in those communities, with a focus on meeting the needs of under served students.

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Are charter schools required to employ certified teachers?

Yes. Statutory provisions require teachers employed by or under contract with a charter school to be certified as required by current law.

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How are charter schools evaluated and assessed?

Every charter school must be evaluated on academic progress and the outcomes agreed upon in the school’s binding contract. In addition, individual schools are evaluated and assigned a school grade using the same standards and criteria as traditional public schools.