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What is a Charter School?

Minnesota is viewed as a leader in education and the establishment of charter schools is no exception. The first charter school opened its doors in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1992. Since then, over 150 schools have been established in our state. Charter school law varies from state to state, but in Minnesota, they operate as if they are their own school district. They establish their own bylaws and policies, operate with their own elected board of directors, make their own curriculum decisions, coordinate their own busing schedules, etc.

Schools are obligated to comply with all the regulations and services required of a regular public school, including special education services and the hiring of licensed teachers. Charter schools tend to attract families who are looking for a more personalized environment for their children, and yet, because tax dollars follow the child to any public school in Minnesota, charter schools are tuition-free. Read more about schools in Minnesota here.

Charter schools in Minnesota must be sponsored and receive overarching guidance from an Authorizer. Beacon Academy’s Authorizer is Innovative Quality Schools (IQS). They currently oversee 22 other schools throughout the state of Minnesota and have a solid reputation. IQS annually reviews Beacon Academy’s governance, financial, and academic performance. Learn more about IQS.

If you’re considering enrolling your child at Beacon Academy, we understand how important it is to feel fully prepared to make a well-informed decision. Here are a few charter school facts to answer the questions you may have:

How does a Charter School work?

A charter school functions as an independently-run public school, operating according to a unique “charter” that defines that school’s mission, performance goals, curriculum, students served, and specific assessment methods.

How is a Charter School Different from a Public School?

Unlike public schools, which students are assigned to based on their home location, charters are schools of choice and typically operate with both greater flexibility and accountability. A charter school also has greater freedom to provide a tailored education according to their specific mission, offering families the ability to enroll their children in an educational facility that suits their academic and personal needs.

What is the difference between a Charter School and a Private School?

A private school may limit enrollment through a competitive application process, or select students based on gender, academic background, and other factors. Additionally, tuition is often required as a condition of attendance. However, charter education offers a tuition-free education to all students.

Can anyone go to a Charter School?

Yes. Charter school enrollment requirements do not exclude students of any race, socioeconomic background, gender, or academic background. Additionally, while traditional public schools typically limit enrollment based on students’ geographical location, charter districts generally do not have specific zones or enrollment boundaries. At a charter school, students of varying abilities are able to succeed, particularly because charter schools are able to utilize their flexibility to provide personalized instruction and academic support.