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.
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.
How are charter school student enrollments funded?
Students enrolled in a charter school must be funded as if they are enrolled in a basic program or a special program at any other public school in the school district. Each charter school must report its student enrollment to the school district and the school district must include each charter school's student enrollment in school district's report of student enrollment that is submitted to the state.
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.
How are charter schools formed?
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 undeserved students.
How many charter schools are currently operating in Florida?
In 1996, the initial year in which charter schools were authorized in Florida, there were five charter schools in operation. Today, that number has grown to 362 charter schools serving 104,257 students in Florida.
What are Charter Schools?
Charter schools are public schools. They are governed by 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.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 (such as FCAT in Florida and the Federal requirements under No Child Left Behind) as well as fiscal practices to several groups: the sponsor that grants them, the parents who choose them, and the public that funds them.
What are the specific requirements for charter schools?
A charter school is required by the Florida statutes to:
- be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations
- admit students as provided in subsection (10)
- be accountable to its sponsor for its performance
- not charge tuition and fees
- comply with all applicable state and local health, safety, and civil rights
- not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status
- subject itself to an annual financial audit
- maintain all financial records that constitute its accounting system in accordance with current law
- annually adopt and maintain an operating budget
- provide an annual financial report and program cost report information
- be governed by a body that exercises continuing oversight over charter school operations and reports its progress annually to the school’s sponsor
- not levy taxes or issue bonds secured by tax revenues
- provide instruction for at least the number of days required by law for other public schools, and may provide instruction for additional days
What is the purpose of charter schools?
Florida charter schools are authorized to fulfill the following purposes:
- 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
- Expand the capacity of the public school system
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