schools are public schools that operate under a contract (or “charter”)
between the persons or groups that will operate the school and the
“sponsor.” The school operators are held explicitly responsible for
achieving academic results and maintaining strict financial controls.
In exchange, they are freed from many of the normal regulations that
specify how things must be done in the traditional public schools.
If the Charter school students do not reach the agreed levels of
academic attainment, the sponsor can decline to renew the charter
(usually set for three to five years) and the school will close.
In Florida the sponsor is the local school district or the Florida
Schools of Excellence Commission, a state agency created by the 2006
Florida Legislature. It was created because many districts put
obstacles in the way of charter schools. In late 2006 the Florida
School Boards Association and some school districts filed a lawsuit
charging that the Commission is in violation of the Florida
An individual or group (often teachers), a municipality, a community
college, a company, or other legal entity organized under the laws of
the Florida may apply for a charter. Traditional public schools may
also convert into charter schools. Florida now has over 300 charter
schools located in about half of the 67 school districts. Over 80,000
students attend them.
The idea behind charter schools is to raise the level of student
achievement by offering families a choice of where their children will
learn, freeing educators to follow their own teaching approaches, and
creating a new form of public school accountability. For some families,
a charter school may offer a real alternative to the assigned public
Charter schools may target specific student populations for enrollment,
such as students at risk of dropping out of school, or students with
academic or artistic abilities. A charter school may also limit or give
priority in enrollment to students living within a certain area.
However, most often charter schools are open to applications from
families anywhere in the school district. Transportation is provided
according to the district’s ordinary policies.
Click on Learn More below for links to additional information
on Charter Schools.