About Charter Schools

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are public schools

  • Charter schools in Colorado are funded in the Public School Finance Act, along with all other public schools.
  • Charter schools receive per pupil revenue (PPR) on the same basis as other public school students enrolled in the district that granted its charter except that districts may retain up to 5% of charter school students’ PPR for actual administrative costs.
  • Charter schools are subject to all State and Federal provisions prohibiting discrimination and must enroll students in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • Although charter schools are public schools, they do not have the independent mill levy override and bonding authority that school districts use to finance their capital facilities. To the extent state funds are not available to support this cost, operating revenues are used to pay for these costs.

Charter schools are open to all students. They are:

  • Free.
  • Public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home-based schools.
  • Non-selective in enrollment. There are no admission tests or admissions requirements.
  • Often designed to serve under-served populations.
  • Appealing to students whose needs are not being met by traditional schools.
  • Frequently over-enrolled; that is, more students apply than the school can accommodate. In that event, a lottery is held to determine admission.

Charter schools are pioneers and innovators.

  • Charters allow creative parents, teachers and educational leaders to design schools that better serve particular populations.
  • Charters can limit class and school size. Charter designers often heed to the research that states that small schools are generally safer and better able to nurture a community of learners than are large schools.
  • Charters select their own curriculum design. They can establish achievement-oriented cultures and choose staff to best support these structures from day one.
  • Charter schools are mission-driven schools created by educators who envision a school committed to a particular purpose and philosophy.
  • The tenor of relationships between charter schools and their districts vary widely. Ultimately accountable implementation of a charter schools’ mission is what best serves students. However, accountability need not be sacrificed for the very spirit of educational innovation and flexibility that the Charter Schools Act was intended to foster.

For more information on charter schools, we recommend one of the following links:

Colorado Department of Education’s Charter School Pages

Colorado League of Charter Schools