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What are charter schools?

How do charter schools differ from traditional public schools?

What is the purpose of charter schools?

What makes charter schools effective?

What requirements are charter schools responsible for meeting?

How are students selected for a charter school?

What types of students are eligible to attend a charter school?

What are the specific eligibility requirements for charter schools?

How are charter schools evaluated and assessed?

Are charter schools required to employ certified teachers?

How are charter school student enrollments funded?

How do I enroll my child in a charter school?

 

 

What are charter schools?

According to Florida Statute 1002.33 a district school board may sponsor a charter school in the county over which the district school board has jurisdiction. Therefore, all charter schools operating in Miami-Dade County shall be under the authority of The School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

In Miami-Dade County, Charter schools are typically operated by nonprofit corporations or municipalities. A governing board, elected according to the by-laws of the nonprofit corporation or the municipality, has the responsibility of managing the school's affairs.   This includes setting policies and procedures, adopting a budget and being accountable to the school's students, families and the sponsor.

The principal, teachers, parents and/or the school advisory council at an existing public school may submit a proposal for converting the school to a charter school. A charter school may be managed by a for-profit educational management corporation. However, private schools, parochial schools or home education programs are not eligible for charter status.

Applications must be submitted prior to September 1st of each calendar year for charter schools to be eligible to open at the beginning of the school district's next school year.

Charter schools are public schools that operate under a performance contract, or a "charter", which frees them from most rules and regulations created for traditional public schools. Charter schools are allocated public educational funds from the same monies given to traditional public schools. As part of the contract, charter schools are held strictly accountable for academic and financial results. Charter schools are free to students.

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How do charter schools differ from traditional public schools?

Charter schools provide freedom and flexibility from bureaucracies that operate traditional public schools. They have the independence and autonomy to make their own decisions. Financial control allows for the ability to implement and pay for the decisions made by charter school founders and their subsequent governing board.

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What is the purpose of charter schools?

Statutory provisions require charter schools to be guided by the following principles:

  • meet high standards of student achievement while providing parents flexibility to choose among diverse educational opportunities within the state's public school system;
  • promote enhanced academic success and financial efficiency by aligning responsibility with accountability; and
  • 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, statutory provisions authorize charter schools 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;
  • to expand the capacity of the public school system; and
  • mitigate the educational impact created by the development of new residential dwelling units.

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What makes charter schools effective?

Charter schools allow teachers and principals to respond immediately and accurately to specific educational needs within a community. They offer complete site-based decision-making. Charter schools provide full contractual and budgetary autonomy. In providing a choice in educational options, charter schools stimulate competition to raise the standard for all students.

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What requirements are charter schools responsible for meeting?

Charter schools must participate in the state assessment system. They must meet state graduation requirements. They must achieve locally negotiated student performance goals. They must meet any other specified requirements particular to the state in which the charter is granted.

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How are students selected for a charter school?

A charter school shall be open to any student residing in the school district in which the charter school is located. A charter school will accept applications during their open enrollment period. If the number of eligible students exceeds the capacity of the program, grade level, or building capacity, a random selection of students will be conducted.

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What types of students are eligible to attend a charter school?

A charter school must be open to any student covered in an interdistrict agreement or residing in the school district in which the charter school is located; however, in the case of a charter lab school, the charter lab school shall be open to any student eligible to attend the lab school as provided in s.1002.32, or who resides in the school district in which the charter lab school is located. Any eligible student shall be allowed interdistrict transfer to attend a charter school when based on good cause.

The charter school shall enroll an eligible student who submits a timely application, unless the number of applications exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or building. In such case, all applicants shall have an equal chance of being admitted through a random selection process.

When a public school converts to charter status, enrollment preference shall be given to students who would have otherwise attended that public school.

A charter school may give enrollment preference to the following student populations:

  • students who are siblings of a student enrolled in the charter school;
  • students who are the children of a member of the governing board of the charter school; or
  • students who are the children of an employee of the charter school.

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;
  • students residing within a reasonable distance of the charter school, as described in paragraph (20)(c) (such students shall be subject to a random lottery and to the racial/ethnic balance provisions described in subparagraph (7)(a)8 or any federal provisions that require a school to achieve a racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the same school district);
  • students who meet reasonable academic, artistic, or other eligibility standards established by the charter school and included in the charter school application and charter or, in the case of existing charter schools, standards that are consistent with the school's mission and purpose. Such standards shall be in accordance with current state law and practice in public schools and may not discriminate against otherwise qualified individuals; and
  • students articulating from one charter school to another pursuant to an articulation agreement between the charter schools that has been approved by the sponsor.

Students with handicapping conditions and students served in English for Speakers of Other Languages programs shall have an equal opportunity of being selected for enrollment in a charter school.

A student may withdraw from a charter school at any time and enroll in another public school as determined by district school board rule.

The capacity of the charter school shall be determined annually by the governing board, in conjunction with the sponsor, of the charter school in consideration of the factors identified in this subsection.

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What are the specific eligibility requirements for charter schools?

A charter school is statutorily required to:

  • be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;
  • be accountable to its sponsor for its performance;
  • not charge tuition and fees, except those fees normally charge by other public schools;
  • comply with all applicable state and local health, safety, and civil rights requirements;
  • 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;
  • the governing body of the charter school shall exercise continuing oversight over charter school operations;
  • the governing body of the charter school shall report its progress annually to its sponsor;
  • not levy taxes or issue bonds secured by tax revenues; and
  • provide instruction for at least the number of days required by law for other public schools, and may provide instruction for additional days.

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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, under the A+ Plan for Education.

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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 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.

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How do I enroll my child in a charter school?

To enroll your child in a charter school you must contact the charter school directly to receive information about their individual application process. Click here for the list of charter schools.

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