Frequently Asked Questions
What are charter schools?
Charter schools are independent public schools that operate under a performance contract, or a “charter”, which frees them from many of the regulations created for traditional public schools, while holding them accountable for academic and financial results. The charter contract between the charter school governing board and the sponsor details the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment and ways to measure success. The length of time for which charters are granted varies but most are granted for five years.
The Florida Legislature, in authorizing the creation of public charter schools, established the following guiding principles: high standards of student achievement while increasing parental choice; the alignment of responsibility with accountability; ensuring parents receive information on reading levels and learning gains of their children. Charter schools are intended to improve student learning, increase learning opportunities with special emphasis on low performing students and reading and measure learning outcomes. Charter schools may create innovative measurement tools, provide competition to stimulate improvement in traditional schools, expand capacity of the publich school system and mitigate the educational impact created by the development of new residential units.
Who is eligible to attend a charter school?
Charter schools are open to all studentsresiding within thedistrict; however,charter schools are allowed to target students within specific age groups or grade levels, students considered at-risk of dropping out or failing, students wishing to enroll in a charter school-in-the-workplace or charter school-in-a-municipality, students residing within a reasonable distance of the school, students who meet reasonable academic, artistic or other eligibility standards established by the charter school or students articulating from one charter school to another. Additionally, a charter school may give enrollment preference to the following student populations:
-Siblings of current charter school students
-Children of a charter school governing board member or employee
-Children of employees of the business partner of a charter school-in-the-workplace or resident of the municipality in which such a charter is located
-Children of residents of a municipality that operates a charter school-in-a-municipality
-Students who have successfully completed a voluntary prekindergarten program provided by the charter school during the previous year
-Children of an active-duty member of any branch of the US Armed Forces.
How are children enrolled in a charter school?
Parents interested in enrolling a child in a charter school should contact the charter school directly to request information about the school, take a tour of the school and obtain a registration packet.
Do charter schools provide exceptional education services?
A charter school must provide ESE services as identified by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) committee. Under certain circumstances, a charter school may not be able to meet the needs of every student. Should this occur, the IEP committee, including the student’s parents/guardians, will meet to determine the best possible educational setting to best serve the needs of the student.
How are charter schools created, organized and operated?
Charter schools are created when an individual, a group of parents or teachers, a business, a municipality or a legal entity submits an application to the school district; the school district approves the application; the applicants form a governing board that negotiates a contract with the district school board; and the applicants and district school board agree upon a charter or contract. The district school board then becomes the sponsor of the charter school. The negotiated contract outlines expectations of both parties regarding the school's academic and financial performance.
A charter school must be organized as, or be operated by, a nonprofit organization. The charter school may serve at-risk students, or offer a specialized curriculum or core academic program, provide early intervention programs or serve exceptional education students.
Are virtual charter schools allowed?
In 2011, legislation was passed permitting the operation of virtual charter schools to provide full-time online instruction to eligible students. A virtual charter school must contract with an approved provider of virtual instruction services in accordance with s. 1002.45, F.S.
What specific statutory requirements apply to charter school operations?
A charter school is statutorily required to (s.1002.33(9),F.S.):
-Be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and operations
-Be accountable to the school district for its performance
-Not charge tuition or fees
-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 and pay for 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;
-Fully participate in the state’s education accountability program
Do charter schools receive a school grade?
Yes, charter schools that serve students in grades 3 and above are issued a school grade by the Florida Department of Education. A charter school’s school grade is calculated in the same manner as traditional public schools
Do charter schools provide transportation?
Parents should contact the charter school directly to learn about transportation arrangements.
Who can teach in a charter school?
Florida statutes require that charter school teachers be certified in the same manner as all other public school teachers in the State of Florida.
Who should I contact if I have a problem at the charter school my child attends?
Parents should contact the principal or director of the school with problems or concerns. If parents feel the administration is not adequately meeting these concerns, they should address these issues with the school’s governing board of directors. Contact information for the charter school’s governing board is available at the charter school.
How can I obtain more information about charter schools?
To receive more information, contact the charter school directly or call the Hernando County School District's Academic Services Division at 352-797-7000.