FAQ’s about Public Charter Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

Charter schools are public schools, just like district public schools.  No tuition may be charged.  No religious teachings are allowed.  They are independently-run, not privately-run.
Public charter schools are funded with public dollars, just like district public schools.  The money follows the student it is intended to educate either to the charter school or the district school.
Charter school parents and teachers are given permission to create an autonomous public school outside the scope of the district schools.  Charter school leaders independently decide key issues like budget, curriculum, and staffing that they believe will best serve their students.  Charter schools are not bound by district contracts like collective bargaining agreements or purchasing agreements, though charter school educators may choose to unionize within their own school or purchase services from the school district.
Yes.  In return for independence, charter school leaders commit to accountability in their performance contract.  They must live up to their performance commitments or the school may be closed.
Every charter public school is accountable to a state-endorsed “authorizer” through its charter performance agreement.  Authorizers approved by the Minnesota state legislature include local school districts, independent charter school boards, large nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions.
All charter public schools are governed by a nonprofit board of directors, which usually consists of community members, educators and parents. The nonprofit board enters into the charter performance agreement with the authorizer, and holds the school leaders accountable for performance results required by the charter.
Yes. Charter public schools must meet the same state and federal academic standards as district public schools. However, they have freedom from regulation in achieving those standards in ways they think best for students. Chartering trades regulation for results.
No. Charter public schools must enroll all students as space is available, including students with special needs, students who speak English as a second language, and students of all ethnic backgrounds.  If there are more students than openings, the charter school must conduct a public lottery and a waiting list of students is created.

— From former Minnesota state senator Ember Reichgott Junge, author of the first charter school law in Minnesota and the book, Zero Chance of Passage:  The Pioneering Charter School Story.  She serves as staff consultant to Sandstone Montessori.