Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are independent public schools that are allowed to be more innovative and are held accountable for student achievement. They foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students to create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are given the freedom to innovate and students are provided the structure they need to learn.
Do charter schools charge tuition?
No. Charter schools are public schools that are free and open to any student, regardless of district lines.
How are charter schools different than traditional public schools?
Charter schools operate from 3 basic principles:
- Choice: Parents select the school their child attends. Teachers and principals choose to work in the school.
- Flexibility: Charter schools are free to make timely decisions about developing curricula, structuring the school day and hiring teachers who meet the needs of their students.
- Accountability: Charter schools operate within a multi-tiered accountability system – to parents, to authorizers via a performance-based contract, to the state and lenders – that leads to quality schools and high achievement.
Who attends charter schools?
Nationwide, students in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics to students in all public schools. In Louisiana, charter schools serve significantly higher percentages of minority or economically disadvantaged students than the traditional public schools.
Who can start a charter school?
Parents, community leaders, businesses, teachers, school districts, and many others can submit a charter school proposal to the local school district. If that request is denied, the proposal can then be sent to Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). In addition, if the local district has a D or F accountability grade, the applicant can apply directly to BESE.
How many charter schools operate in Louisiana?
As of the 2013-13 school year, there are 117 charter schools throughout Louisiana. The majority of those schools are in New Orleans, a city that leads the nation in the percentage of public school students in charter schools. To learn more about all of the charter schools in Louisiana, check out the LDE's "Charter School Contact List" which can be downloaded at: http://www.louisianabelieves.com/schools/charter-schools
Who oversees charter schools? How are they held accountable?
All charter schools have a local nonprofit board of directors that oversees the school. The board must comply with open meeting laws, providing a forum for parents and community members to discuss the schools’ operation. As such, charter schools provide opportunities for direct community involvement and parental input, enabling the schools to make quick, effective changes to meet students’ specific needs, which helps improve student achievement. Charter Schools must also comply with policies set by their authorizer, either the local school board or the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Charter schools are held to the same academic accountability system as all other public schools in Louisiana. If a charter school does not meet its academic, financial, and operational obligations by the end of its contract (initial term of 5 years), then its authorizer can close the school.
How are charter schools funded?
Charter schools, like all public schools in Louisiana receive state funds as part of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), which is a per student allocation of funds to schools based on enrollment. Charter schools also partake in traditional nonprofit fundraising to help raise money for the school.
Are charter schools working in Louisiana?
According to a 2013 study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Reform (CREDO), Louisiana's charter schools are outperforming traditional public schools in the state in reading and math. You can read about the stellar performance here: https://credo.stanford.edu/documents/la_report_2-13_7_26_2013_final.pdf
Many schools have been successful enough to have their charters renewed, which means that their authorizers were satisfied that they met the original goals of their charter and, therefore, deserved to continue to operate.
How can I get more information?
For more information or any other questions, please feel free to contact the Association at 504.274.3651.