About Us » What is a Charter School?

What is a Charter School?

A charter school in Colorado:

  • Is a public school that is tuition free and open to all students. 
  • Is operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members.
  • Operates under a charter (or contract) between the charter school and its authorizer, either a local school district or the Colorado Charter School Institute.
  • Is a semi-autonomous public school of choice; its local school district will not automatically assign students to the school. Charter schools must have a defined enrollment policy. 
  • Generally has more flexibility than traditional public schools as regards curriculum, fiscal management, and overall school operations, and may offer an education program that is more innovative than traditional public schools.
  • May request waivers from provisions of state law and any state or local rule, regulation, policy, or procedure relating to schools in the school district.
  • Has flexibility through waivers; however, in exchange for this flexibility, the charter school is bound by contract to be held accountable for meeting the performance-based objectives specified in the charter.
  • Receive state funding based on Per Pupil Operating Revenue (PPR), which is a formula for each student enrolled, just like traditional public schools.

Are charter schools accredited?

Yes. The State Board of Education accredits public school districts. School districts in turn accredit the schools that meet their district accreditation standards. Charter schools are subject to all accreditation requirements. Many districts and charter schools seek additional accreditation through independent organizations. For more information on these accrediting agencies, consult your local district or charter school. Further, the State Board of Education accredits the Charter School Institute through a similar process. Institute charter schools are accredited through the Institute and subject to the Institute’s accreditation requirements.

Who provides transportation to a charter school?

Due to finances and the need to pay for facilities out of operating revenue, many charter schools do not provide bus transportation for students. Parents often organize car pools to provide transportation. Public transportation is used in some areas when it is available. Some charter schools do have agreements with their school district for bus service. Whenever this is done, the agreement is in the written charter/contract.

Do charter schools serve students with special needs?

Yes. The Charter Schools Act [C.R.S. 22-30.5-104 (3)] prohibits discrimination on the basis of need for special education services. As a public school, a charter school must comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and any state special education laws. View more information on charter schools and special education