What is a Charter School?

Charter School Facts

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  • Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of traditional school districts. They are managed by boards of directors elected by teachers and the parents of children enrolled.
  • Charter schools must be nonsectarian, and they may not administer admissions tests or charge tuition. Like other public schools, charters are expected to meet all state and federal health and safety guidelines, including the requirements of No Child Left Behind legislation. Funding for charter schools is based on the average state allocation per pupil. In cases where the state provides extra money for students from low-income families or for students with disabilities, those funds also follow enrolled students.
  • All charter schools share two fundamental likenesses. First, they are schools of choice. Students attend charter schools because they choose to, and teachers work in them because they want to. Second, all charter schools are accountable for the goals they have outlined to the state. If boards of directors do not operate in fiscally responsible ways, or if students fail to meet academic standards, charter schools can be closed.
  • In Minnesota, charters work closely with authorizers — school districts, education districts, nonprofit organizations, public or private colleges, universities, technical schools, or the Minnesota Department of Education — who oversee fiscal, operational, and academic progress of the school. The Audubon Center of the Northwoods authorizes Northern Lights Community School.