What is a Charter School

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a free, independent public school that operates outside of a school district. Charter schools are granted greater flexibility in return for greater accountability. Missouri charter schools are governed by independent boards and are non-profit organizations.

What is a “charter”?

The “charter” is the contract between a non­profit entity and an allowable sponsor. The “charter” explains what the school wants to do, how they will go about it, what they will accomplish, and how they will measure their performance. When a charter school fails to comply with the terms of its charter, the charter can be revoked or not renewed at the end of the contract (usually 5 years).

There are three kinds of sponsors in Missouri: school boards of accredited districts, qualifying universities and the Missouri Charter Public School Commission. Each sponsor sets their own policies and procedures for sponsorship. Sponsored charter schools must be approved by the Missouri State Board of Education and must meet all applicable state statutes and Department of Elementary and Secondary Regulations.

What is the difference between charter public schools and other public schools?

Charter schools are established by teachers, parents, principals, educational experts and entrepreneurs. The biggest difference is that no student is assigned to a charter school. Families choose to enroll their children in charter schools.

Charter schools operate freed from some of the regulations of a school district. Charter schools are accountable to achieve the same state standards as school districts, but may choose to use different measures and timelines for reaching their goals. In exchange for flexibility, charters can be closed if they do not keep their performance promises.

Charter schools are governed by non-profit boards and must comply with the conditions of their “charter” agreement and performance contract. Unlike elected district boards, charter school boards are appointed and operate under Missouri Statutes that regulate non-profit organizations.

How are charter schools funded?

Charter schools are public schools and are prohibited from charging tuition. Charter schools receive per pupil public funds similar to district schools. While Missouri law requires charter schools to receive 100% of the funding, the reality is that charter school per pupil funding is slightly smaller than what the local district receives.

As with most states, Missouri charter schools 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.

Who can start a charter school?

Parents, community leaders, social entrepreneurs, businesses, teachers, school districts, and municipalities can submit a charter school proposal to an eligible sponsor.

Where can charter schools be located?

Charter schools can open and operate in all school districts in Missouri. The Missouri Charter Public School Commission can sponsor charter schools in Kansas City Public Schools district, St. Louis Public Schools district, any unaccredited district and any district provisionally accredited for 3 or more years.

Who can attend charter schools?

Charter schools are public schools and open to all students in the area they serve. Charter schools accept students by random, public lottery.

What is a charter management organization?

Charter management organizations (CMOs) provide non-profit charter schools with management services. These contracted services typically include curriculum development, assessment design, professional development, systems implementation, back-office services, teacher recruitment, and facility services. Governing boards of charter schools contract with CMO’s and hold them accountable.

Are all charter schools the same?

Charter schools in Missouri and across the United States differ. Charter schools vary in the grades they serve, the themes they offer and in the culture and climate of their school. Most charter schools serve students in communities with limited access to high performing public schools. Many charter schools are designed specifically for students in poverty and historically underserved students.