Q: What is a charter school?
A: A charter school is an independent public school that operates independently of the district board of education. In effect, a charter school is a one-school public school district. A group of people — educators, parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs or others — write the charter plan describing the school's guiding principles, governance structure, and applicable accountability measures. If the state approves the charter, the state funds the charter on a per pupil basis. In most cases charter schools operate under a clear agreement between the state and the school: increased autonomy in exchange for increased accountability. Because they are schools of choice, they are held to the highest level of accountability — consumer demand.
Q: What makes your school different from other schools in CCSD?
Charter schools operate from 3 basic principles:
A: Accountability: Charter schools are held accountable for how well they educate children in a safe and responsible environment, not for compliance with district and state regulations. They are judged on how well they meet the student achievement goals established by their charter, and how well they manage the fiscal and operational responsibilities entrusted to them. Charter schools must operate lawfully and responsibly, with the highest regard for equity and excellence. If they fail to deliver, they are closed.
Choice: Parents, teachers, community groups, organizations, or individuals interested in creating a additional educational opportunities for children can start charter schools. Local and state school boards, colleges and universities, and other community agencies can sponsor them. Students choose to attend, and teachers choose to teach at charter schools.
Autonomy: Charter schools are freed from the traditional bureaucracy and regulations that some feel divert a school's energy and resources toward compliance rather than excellence. Proponents of charter schools argue that instead of jumping through procedural hoops and over paperwork hurdles, educators can focus on setting and reaching high academic standards for their students.
Q: Do you have to pay tuition? How are charter schools funded?
A: Charter schools are public schools and like district public schools, they are funded according to enrollment (also called average daily attendance, or ADA), and receive funding from the district and the state according to the number of students attending. However, in a number of states, they do not receive the full equivalent of their district counterparts: Minnesota charters only receive the state portion (about 75% of a district school's total per-pupil allocation); charters in New Jersey and Colorado also receive less than 100% of the per-pupil funding. In other states, charters must negotiate their funding in their charter contract, often below the level of funding of their district counterparts, and then make up the difference through grants and donations. In addition, unlike traditional district schools, most charter schools do not receive funding to cover the cost of securing a facility. Conversion schools (charter schools that were once public or private schools) begin with established capital, namely the school and its facilities. A few states provide capital funding to start-up schools, and some start-up schools are able to take over available unused district space, but most must rely on other, independent means. Recent federal legislation provides funding to help charters with start-up costs, but the task remains imposing.
Q: Do charter schools have admission policies? Can anyone attend a charter school?
A: By law, charter schools must have a fair and open admission process, conducting outreach and recruitment to all segments of the community they serve. They are public schools and therefore cannot "choose" which students attend. Like other public schools, charter schools are nonsectarian and nondiscriminatory in admission and employment practices. Charter school students are admitted on a first-come, first served basis, or by lottery when applicants exceed available slots.
Q: Are teachers licensed?
A: Teachers must meet state guidelines for teacher licensure and have a current Nevada Teacher's License to teach at Pinecrest Academy of Nevada.
Q: Do charter schools offer special education services?
A: Yes, charter schools must meet state law regarding special education services for students and must meet the requirements of student IEPs (Individualized Education Program).