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Seven essentials about charter schools

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By GreatSchools Staff

6. Charters receive state funding, generally based on their enrollment.

Similar to regular public schools, this funding is based on a formula for each child enrolled in the charter school. However, such formulas vary from school to school and state to state.

In some states, such as Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota and New Jersey, charters receive less money than regular schools because states and districts withhold administrative fees. In other states, like California, additional funds are made available to charters to cover facilities and start-up costs.

Many charters have ambitious programs that are not fully funded by state or district formulas and therefore do their own fundraising to obtain grants and additional donations. There is also a limited amount of federal funding to help start new charter schools.

Funding for facilities can be a challenge for charter schools. In some cases, districts provide free space for charters or funding for charters to pay for facilities. But even with this support, charter schools often end up moving multiple times due to the difficulty of finding a permanent home. As you look at a charter school, be sure to ask about its facility status and whether it will need to move again in the future.

7. Charter schools can be closed down by their authorizers.

Authorizers are the entities that grant schools their charter and monitor their performance. Depending on the state, authorizers may include charter boards, school boards, and universities. While each state's charter law is a bit different regarding reasons for a school to be shut down, the key reasons schools close are:

  • They can't recruit enough students.
  • They can't find a stable space to operate.
  • They can't manage their finances.

While this sounds dramatic, in reality authorizers rarely close down charters. When researching a charter school, find out who authorized it and get a copy of the latest performance report generated by the authorizer. Some authorizers do in-depth reviews of their schools, so these reports can give you important insights about the school's long-term viability.

 


Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

12/5/2011:
"I'm a charter school teacher who loves her job....but it's hard work! Staff expectations are very high, and I work way beyond my contract hours. I'm okay with this because ( as a charter school) we should outperform public schools. I'm not against public schools~I spent 4 years teaching at one and it was an excellent experience. I like that parents have a choice, though..I chose a public school math & science "magnet" for my son when he started school and he's a very successful professional today. I know it was the challenging curriculum and dedicated teachers who provided the solid foundation for his future. "
11/7/2011:
"Before visit this post I could have a huge research about the concepts of charter schools but while reviewing these seven aspects I was just curious about the positive facts of the essentials, which are really impressive. http://www.csmci.com/ "
10/19/2011:
"My son is in the 8th grade, he has gone to public, private and is in his 2nd year at a charter school. He loves the charter school and refuses to go anywhere else. The teachers are wonderful, all teachers on staff have a Masters Degree in the subject they teach. They have moved to the electronic tablets for all lessons getting them ready for college. It is hard to change several years of learning to do it a different way, but to see my son's smiles along with all the other students at the end of the day makes it all worth while. If you are looking for a charter school, do your homework don't go by what you read in forums. You can check out the schools through your states website under education. Ask other parents, go in and talk to the staff. "
06/3/2011:
"I LOVE THIS SCHOOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
05/10/2011:
"I am a third grade teacher in public school in Utah. From my experience with charter schools in my area I would NOT send my child to a school where the teachers are not certified and the school is ran by parents. Parents- I am with your child 8 hours a day. I analyze their test scores, I read with them and do many math problems with them. Why are you not putting your faith in certified teachers who have been trained and taught to teach students in many different ways? Why should a parent get to dictate if I am a good teacher or not? Most parent's haven't taken the time to sit in my classroom for an hour and see the wonderful learning environment that a public school can provide- with rules, state standards,and high expectations that a school not ran by professional educators does not have."
11/19/2009:
"great comment on 4/10/08. I have never had anyone ask me what grades I got in high school. Picking a good charter school may be a challenge but it is so worth it!"
11/9/2009:
"My daughter goes to the pre-K in a Charter School. She loves it. She pulls me in the door every morning. The teachers are great and really there because of their love for teaching - not just a job. Teachers are hired to fit the school and come not always from a traditional teaching background. Parents are very involved. I also like that the school is small. The teachers know every child by name and who the parent/guardian is. "
11/5/2009:
"I found this article to make it out to sound like charters are not a great alternative. I work at one of the best charter schools in the state of Michigan. We are the #2 charter school in the state, and we rank #5 in the state when all public districts are included in the rankings. Just like any public school it depends on whether or not you have an educational LEADER in charge. We have high expectations for staff and students, and we meet them. I wouldn't send my children anywhere else!"
11/3/2009:
"My granddaughter attends a charter school in Florida. The first two years she was harrassed unmercifully with ZERO intervention on the part of the staff. Her parents chose to leave her there because of the academic standards. I am a retired (23 years) teacher and felt this was a drastic mistake! The inner child needs to be in tact before they can begin to focus on academic expectations. She excelled dispite the bullying but missed a lot of school due to avoidance. I recommend parents really think over their choices."
10/7/2009:
" i'm moving to sugarland but have no idea abt the city. can anybody help me by telling me abt few private high schools."
05/4/2009:
"I was able to locate a comparison chart for local public schools (ranking 1-10). Is there one for local charter schools? "
03/5/2009:
"the number 1 question that you must ask yourself before you send your precious bundle of whatever off to a charter school: 'why would I want my kid to be 'that' kid?' The next question you should ask yourself is 'do I want my progeny hanging around with the 'that' sort of kid?' Public schools are what we the people make 'em into. If you don't feel like you're very good at it, then, yeah - you might want to outsource it to the Catholics, but there are few other outfits that have the type of track record that I would trust my little bundle to."
01/14/2009:
"w.r.t letter 1/22/08; I also have 4 children in a Charter school and plan to keep them there. This school is the only one I have come across in this area that is flexible and committed enough to accommodate all their needs - from the eldest who is supremely gifted, to the youngest who needed intervention. All of them are thriving."
12/10/2008:
"I enrolled my kids in Palm Bay community charter last year and it was such a big mistake. Everything looked organized, school is beautiful but the response that i got from most of the teachers were less than professional.My kids grades have dropped drastically, when i tried to meet with teachers, i was told to communicate on line, to which i refused, or they will return my calls which they rarely did, i had to go through the corporate office in orded to get response or result. By the way i have never had a chance to meet with the principal because he was never there, according to his staff.I finally decided to remove my children just in time to find out that the school was closing because they ran out of money. This is not a surprise to me, bad managenemt and lack of professionalism. I feel sorry for the student and the few very good male teachers that they have, no doubt that they will do good elsewhere."
04/22/2008:
"The information provided was very informative. It will aide in deciding whether to continue enrollment in a private school or transition into a charter school. Thank You!"
04/10/2008:
"Test scores are NOT a measure of success. My definition of success from a school is to instill and foster the following in a child: 1. A love of learning. 2. A solid and balanced foundation in reading, math, science, visual and musical arts. You could excel in those things and do crappy on a school test. Have you even looked at these standardized tests? The questions are DUMB! Why anyone things they measure anything worthwhile is beyond me."
03/11/2008:
"IS THERE A CHARTER SCHOOL IN SPOKANE AREA? FOR SIX MONTHS I WAS HOMESCHOOLING HER. SHE TOLD ME MOMMY I WANT TO BE WITH OTHER KIDS. I PUT MY DAUGHTER IN A PUBLIC PRESCHOOL. SHE WAS HAPPY AND LOVES TO GO TO SCHOOL FROM MONDAY-THURSDAY. SHE TOLD ME MOMMY I LIKE TO GO TO SCHOOL IN THE SUMMER TOO,OK MOMMY. EVERYDAY MY DAUGHTER REMIND ME TO TAKE HER TO GO SCHOOL. TODAY, I PICKED HER UP I TOLD HER BAD NEW. I CAN TELL BY LOOKING AT HER FACE SHE REALLY SAD AND UNHAPPY. SHE WONT BE IN KINDERGARTEN. MY DAUGHTER SAID TO ME MOMMY,I REALLY WANT TO LEARN BUT I TURN FIVE YEARS OLD JUST A LITTLE BIT LATE. I DONT KNOW WHAT TO SAY OR HOW TO EXPLAIN TO HER WHY? I WANT ONE THAT WILL ACCEPT HER INTO KINDERGARTEN EVEN THOUGH SHE WONT BE 5 UNTIL DECEMBER 2, 2008. ARE THERE ANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS OR PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN SPOKANE AREA OR IN DIFFERENT STATES WILL ACCEPT MY DAUGHTER IN KINDERGARTEN. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.. "
02/27/2008:
"I am looking for a charter school to enroll my child in. This is his first year in Middle Sch. and he has gone from making mosely all 'A' to barely proforming at all. and has been in a very different mood most of the time. Please help me to help him."
02/19/2008:
"I am looking for a great charter school for my daughter in Maricopa County, in the East Valley if possible but I am willing to travel throughout the county if needed. I want one that will accept her into Kindergarten even though she won't be 5 until December."
02/19/2008:
"Thanks for all of this information! I found it very helpful!"
02/19/2008:
"This was my son's first year in Middle School(6th - 8th). My son being in 6th. He started out great but began to come home more and more tired and stressed out. Not knowing exactly why I started to questioned my son. At first his response was 'nothing mom we just had to run alot in PE'. Finally one day my 12yr. old son broke down. He literaly had an emotional breakdown. For 3days all he did was cry & refuse to get out of bed. When I mentioned school he became violently outraged. MY SON WAS A VICTIM OF HARRASSMENT, BEING PHYSICALLY BULLIED. And is terrified to attend school, any school. When I exposed this student and demanded disciplinary action take place the school failed to do so did the school superintendant. As a parent it is my responsibility to protect my child and I will not be sending my son back into such unsafe place again. So please send me info. on your charter school. Thank You "
02/14/2008:
"I have a question. I will be moving to a town that is high crime and violence. I would like to put my children in a different school. The City is Reading pa. How can I find a charter school in that area?"
02/14/2008:
"Need advice. essence my daughter will go to kindergarden in Sept. Looking for a charter school she can attend in the Bronx. please advise."
02/11/2008:
"How do i enroll my son that is struggling in private schools into a charter school? is there one in mansfield, tx? are they homebound charter schools? pls advise. "
02/11/2008:
"I have a 2nd grader and he hates school this yaer because of a teacher who will not challenge him I have spoke to her and the principle and have gotten no where. Does any one know anything about pinellas prepatory in pinellas county fla."
02/11/2008:
"Our children are in a charter Montessori program and I LOVE it! So do they. I pulled them from public school, home schooled for half a year and put my hopes in the Charter school Lottery system. What I know is that each parent, each child, each school situation is different and I thank God for the choices available when a particular school or learning situation does not meet an individual child's (or parent's) needs. THere is no homework at this school unless necessary and children and parents are treated as the individual, intelligent beings God intended us each to be. My children have difficult areas but are able to learn at their own pace for as long as it takes. I've often wondered why a great Charter school model could not be followed by the general public school system?"
02/11/2008:
"Very informative. I am thinking of transferring my 11th grader to a charter school her senior year and this article helped me get a better understanding of the Charter school system."
02/8/2008:
"I think the point to be made here is: Just because a school is a charter school does or does not tell a parent if it is a great school. There are different kinds of charter schools so you need to do some research. "
02/8/2008:
"this comment is hilarious: 'The amount of grammatical errors in these comments amaze me. Apparently proof reading is not part of the educational platform' Amount is singular, so it should be amazes me, not amaze me. LOL"
02/8/2008:
"In response to questions about entrance requirements for charter schools, once again this may vary in some states but as I understand it, generally there should be no entrance criteria. This relates to the fact that charter schools get public funding which can be local, state or federal. A private school can have entrance requirements in contrast."
02/7/2008:
"There are many good and valid comments. I want to make a remark about the comments families who move their kids from public to charter schools. There are a number charter schools trying to provide services to children with specific disabilities surfacing all over the country. For anyone who has experienced if only a single minute dealing with the special education system in the public schools, life for students who need these services is less than fair. After many frustrating meetings, much compromising and endless rejection, many parents of disabled students see these charter schools as the last light of hope. Imagine that! An institution that offers services to your child and other children with the same disability. A place where you can meet other parents who share the same daily experiences. A place where the stigma is less of a concern and there are more opportunities for your child. Yes, some charter schools are disorganized, the staff may not be as well prepared as one would like, and facilities may not always be up to par. There are a number of schools, public and private, that can be found guilty of the same. By the same token, let's not forget that there are many good charter, public and private schools. It seems to me that schools are just as much individuals as our children."
02/1/2008:
"What is the age requirement for attending schools in WA? I heard that a child would have to be 5 year old by 8-31 on order to start Kindergarten. My son's birthday is 9-7-02, only missed by a few days. We currently live in CA where the rule is he must be 5 by the end of December, so he made it ands attend Kindergarten. If we moved back to WA, would he be able to start first grade in the fall?"
02/1/2008:
"My son is in a charter school the education is great but there discipline is way too strong if a student do something wrong they get demerit ok then after 4 they get detention now a student can be behind it dosent seem to matter has much as them serving that dention i feel there shoul be a balace a lin should be drawn a student start someting to anthor that student defend themself and end up serving detention its unfair i fell education first displine 2nd look at the issue first "
01/31/2008:
"I do have a question about the teachersa crediations, Do they have to have a degree in teaching or can ANY peroson step in and teach even as a sub? I have been told this and I am really hesitating on this fact to send my children to this school."
01/30/2008:
"Really good info for parents and guardins to know. Just like public schools, charters vary in what they offer. It's obvious that the quality varies alot with the funding-the best teachers and stimulating, creative, and individualized programs come with a steep price that charters have trouble paying given their means of funding-state money, limited fed. dollars, and zero from taxes that public school districts do assess their residents. Charter schools get paid for having 'butts in the seat',which makes them extremely business oriented,possibly at the expense of education. As a student teacher in San Antonio, TX I saw that the charter schools suffer from funding issues that mean poor quality libraries, science taught only out of a book, and out-of-date textbooks, if they have books at all. Yes, textbooks should not be the sole source of info in the class, but they serve as a basis of info. The students who aren't challenged in a public school with the means (teachers and fu! nding) to do so have failed the student. And this also applies to charter schools that don't challege the students. These students should be in a GT class, AP class or something. Having said all this I say that at least parents have another alternative to public, private, and home schooling educational modes."
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