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A Parent's Voice
Questions and Answers

Q. Are charter schools public schools or private schools?

A. Charter schools are public schools.

Q. How much does a charter school cost?

A. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools. There is no cost to attend.

Q. Are charter schools all the same?

A. No. Each charter school is founded on a unique mission with unique goals. Curriculum is similar in some charter schools and very different in others. School websites are a good place to begin comparing the differences.

Q. Do charter schools hand pick their students?

A. No. Charter schools are public schools and therefore are not allowed to turn anyone away. Schools might have slightly different methods for filling open spots in the school, whether by lottery or a wait list, but there is no entrance exam or admission requirements.

Q. Do charter schools accept special needs students?

A. Yes. As a public school, a charter cannot, by law, discriminate against students with special needs.

Q. I hear that charter parents have to volunteer a ton of hours and I don't have time for that. What is required of me as a parent of a charter school?

A. Each charter school has different requirements/requests for parent involvement. Usually they require a certain number of hours to be fulfilled each year. Schools offer multiple opportunities for achieving the requirement and work hard to respect each family's busy schedules.

Q. Do charter school students wear uniforms?

A. Again, this depends on the school. Some require uniforms, some impose a dress code. This information can be found on the school website.

Q. How are charter schools funded?

A. This differs state to state but in Colorado, charter schools receive, by law, 95% of the state Per Pupil Operating Revenue (PPOR) through their authorizer. However, the district neighborhood schools go to local voters for approval of bond issues to finance their facilities. Charter schools have historically not been included in those bonds (although some districts do now share a portion of bond money with charters). Therefore, charter schools must pay their "rent" or their "mortgage" out of their PPOR, which can be up to 20% of their budget. This is why you often see charter schools starting out in strip malls. When they do purchase their own facilities, that is done through the financing of private bonds, still paid for out of the PPOR instead of additional taxpayer dollars.

Q. Are charter school teachers certified?

A. Not necessarily. Again, there are differences in each state, but Colorado law does not require school teachers to be certified with teacher licenses. Individual charter schools have varying requirements for qualification to teach in their schools. All Colorado teachers--including charter school teachers--must meet the requirements in the No Child Left Behind law for "highly qualified teachers".

Q. How can I get my child into a charter school?

A. Once you have found charter schools in your area, check their websites for enrollment procedures. Some parents place their child's name on several charter school enrollment lists, hoping to be chosen in the lottery for at least one school. Completing an Intent to Enroll with a charter school does not obligate you do attend that school.

Do you have additional questions that were not answered here? Please send those questions to donnell@parentalchoiceineducation.com.