Charter School FAQs

What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools that are responsive to students' needs and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They are highly innovative and designed to deliver programs tailored to educational excellence and the needs of the communities they serve. They are granted by the Arkansas Department of Education and operate with flexibility from several of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.

The basic concept of a charter school is to exercise increased autonomy in return for accountability. Charter schools are responsible to several groups for both academic results and fiscal practices: the sponsor that grants them; the parents who choose them and the public that funds them.

Why are charter schools beneficial?
Charter schools give parents and students a choice in their education. Charters provide educational choice for parents and expand educational opportunity for their children. Parents seeking educational equity and equal access to quality educational opportunities for their children have found an answer in public charter schools.
Charter schools have been identified as being beneficial for the following reasons:
Increase opportunities for learning and access to quality education for all students
Provide a system of accountability for results in public education
Encourage innovative teaching practices
Encourage community and parent involvement in public education
Create competition among public schools and thus stimulate improvement
Charter schools have increased autonomy and often create innovative educational opportunities including:
Thematic Instruction
Longer School Days
Focus on Mastery of Skills
Student Portfolios with Individualized Education Plans
Foreign Language at an Early Age
Increased Parental Involvement
Low Student/Teacher Ratio
Increased Emphasis on Citizenship, Ethics and Character Education
Do charter schools charge tuition?
No, charter schools are public schools and do not charge tuition.

What's the difference between charter schools and other public schools? Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning teachers and students choose them. They operate with flexibility from many regulations that apply to traditional public schools. They generally offer teachers and students more authority to make decisions than most traditional public schools. Instead of being accountable for compliance with rules and regulations, they are accountable for academic results and for upholding their charter.

Charter schools are intended to: (1) increase opportunities for learning and access to quality education for all students, (2) create choice for parents and students within the public school system, (3) provide a system of accountability for results in public education, (4) encourage innovative teaching practices, (5) create new professional opportunities for teachers, (6) encourage community and parent involvement in public education and (7) leverage improved public education broadly.

What's the difference between a conversion and an open-enrollment charter school?
A conversion charter school is a public school that has been converted to a charter school within an existing public school district. An open-enrollment charter school is a newly-developed public school run by a non-sectarian organization.
Who authorizes charter schools?
In Arkansas, the Department of Education's Charter Authorizing Panel authorizes new charter schools and renews the charters of existing charter schools.  The Panel's decisions are subject to review by the State Board of Education.
Who can start a charter school?
Parents, community leaders, businesses, teachers, school districts and non-profit organizations can submit a charter school proposal. For additional information on how to start a charter school, please visit our Starting a Charter School page.
Who can attend a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools and are open to all students. Conversion charters can draw students only from within their school district's boundaries. Open-enrollment charters can draw students from across district boundaries.
How do charters decide what students to accept?
Any student can apply to attend a charter school. If an Arkansas charter school has more students apply than slots are available, the charter school is required to conduct a random, anonymous lottery. Charter schools do not discriminate.
How are charter schools funded?
Like public schools, open-enrollment charter schools are funded according to their average daily membership of students and receive funding from the state according to the number of students belonging.

In Arkansas, open enrollment charter schools currently receive facilities funding on a per student basis.



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