Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Charter Schools
Q. What is a charter school?
A. A charter school is an independent and autonomous public school. Charter schools are largely free from state and local regulation. This freedom gives charter schools the ability to establish their own policies, design their educational program, handle their human capital, and manage their budget / financial resources. In return for this autonomy, charter schools are accountable for high student achievement through the terms of a five-year performance contract. Charter schools must meet the same NYS Regents’ performance standards established for all public schools as well as the goals established in their charter.
Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students in New York City through a non- discriminatory admissions lottery. Students who attend charter schools do so by choice. And educators who teach at charter schools do so by choice. Each charter school is governed by a not- for-profit board of trustees that typically includes a mix of educational experts, business leaders, community members, and parents. Charter boards of trustees are legally responsible and accountable to the school, hire and fire the principal, and establish terms and conditions subject to the charter’s agreement and in adherence with state law. Charter schools cannot charge tuition but are permitted to conduct their own fundraising efforts to obtain additional private funding.
Q. What are the objectives of charter schools?
A. Charter schools are authorized under New York State’s 1998 Charter School Act. This Act authorizes the creation of a system of charter schools that provide teachers, parents, and community members with the opportunity to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing school districts in order to:
Improve student learning and achievement Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are at-risk of academic failure Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods Create new professional opportunities for teachers, school administrators, and other school personnel Provide parents and students with expanded high quality choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system Provide schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems by holding charter schools accountable for meeting measurable student achievement results
Q. Who can enroll in charter schools?
A. Any child eligible for admission to a traditional public school is eligible for admission to a public charter school. Admission to a charter school cannot be limited on the basis of disability, race, creed, gender, national origin, religion, ancestry, intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or athletic ability.
New World Preparatory Charter School Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Charter Schools
Q. What is NYCDOE’s position on charter schools?
A. Chancellor Walcott is a strong supporter of charter schools. He joins the ranks of urban superintendents across the country that believe charter schools are a powerful mechanism for bringing about education reform in school districts. Charter schools are aligned with and promote the NYCDOE’s primary goals for all public schools: academic excellence, improved student achievement, leadership, autonomy, and accountability. Charter schools also encourage and nurture innovative instructional practices and high standards that benefit educators and students throughout the school system. In addition, charter schools have proven to produce excellent average attendance rates, high student performance levels, and a high level of parent satisfaction.
Charter schools are a critical component of Chancellor Klein’s Children First initiative. The NYCDOE has taken aggressive steps to make New York City a welcoming environment for all charter schools in NYC by helping them secure district facilities and additional funding to support start-up costs
Q. Do NYCDOE-authorized charter schools have required performance or achievement standards?
A. The Charter Schools Act requires charter schools to demonstrate that their educational programs meet or exceed the student performance standards adopted by the Board of Regents for other public schools. Furthermore, the NYCDOE has set performance standards for all NYCDOE-authorized charter schools. Those standards can be found in Appendix F as the Performance & Compliance Standards.
Q. How are charter schools in New York City funded?
A. Charter schools receive approximately the same public per-student allocation as traditional public schools. Charter schools in New York City receive a per-student allocation from and determined by the State. To obtain the most recent preliminary per-pupil allocation for the upcoming FY2008-09 fiscal year, please refer to the following link at the NY State Education Department website: http://stateaid.nysed.gov/charter/charter_0809_prelim_022508.pdf. In addition, other funding is available to charter schools through federal, state and municipal allocations.
In addition to per-pupil funding, New York City charter schools receive funding for initial start-up expenses that include:
(1) set up of classroom and library facilities
(2) provision and installation of communication and record-keeping equipment
(3) recruitment and enrollment of students
(4) orientation programs and
(5) staff development services. During the first year, the fixed start-up allocation is $90,000 plus an additional a per-capita start-up allotment based on number of new students ($391 for K-5; $443 for 6-8; $475 for 9-12). In year two, three and four, start-up funds include only the per capita amount for those grades into which it’s expanding (new grades of students only).
Q. What is the fiscal impact this charter school would have on the Community School District?
A. We estimate the fiscal impact the New World Preparatory Charter School will have on Community School District 31, at full capacity, is .0375% of their total budget.
Q. Are Charter Schools Required to Provide Services to Students with Disabilities?
A. Yes. The responsibility to make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) available to all students with disabilities applies to ALL public schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Charter schools are public schools; therefore, they bear the same responsibility.
Q. Who is actually responsible for ensuring that special education services are available to students with disabilities in a charter school?
The answer depends on how the charter school is legally identified in the state.
If a charter school is considered to be an independent Local Education Agency (LEA) under its state’s law, that charter school bears the exact same legal requirements for providing special education services as any other LEA (or district).
If a charter school is considered part of an existing LEA, the LEA (or district) retains most or all of the responsibility for special education in the charter school. The charter school is considered a school within that LEA and is responsible for following LEA policy.