About Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools and like all other public schools, there is no cost to attend, and they are open to all students. Charter schools are provided with operational freedom and flexibility to innovate and are held accountable by their authorizer.  All charter schools are authorized by a local school district or a county office of education.  The purpose of charter schools is to provide parents with choices in the public education system.

Charter schools are bound to the terms of a contract, or “charter,” that outlines a school’s mission, academic goals, fiscal guidelines, and accountability requirements.  In California, charters are granted for up to five years.  At the end of the charter term, the entity granting the charter (the authorizer) may renew the school's contract.  Charter schools are accountable to their authorizer to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract. Like traditional public schools, charters receive state funding based on a formula for each child enrolled in the school.

When lawmakers passed the Charter Schools Act of 1992, California became the second state in the country (Minnesota was the first) to enact charter school legislation.  The intent was to allow educators, community members, parents, or others to create an alternative type of public school.

Today, California is at the leading edge of the charter school movements with over 1,300 charter schools serving approximately 628,849 public school students or approximately ten percent of the public-school student population in California.

Information on this page provided by the California Department of Education https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ch/cefcharterschools.asp