In 2016, Hawaii had more than 10,500 students enrolled one of 34 charter public schools across the state. Nearly three million students are attending charter public schools across the nation. By 2020, that number is expected to reach more than four million students. To learn about charter public schools, visit the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website.
Are charter schools public schools?
Yes, charter schools are public schools. Charters are tuition-free, nonsectarian and open to any students who wish to attend. Like any public school, charters are staffed by certified teachers and held accountable to national and state standards.
Charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement since charter contracts come before periodic renewals by its charter authorizer. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning, and have more flexibility around things like staffing and the length of the school day.
Charter public schools allow parents, teachers and organizations to restore, reinvent, and innovate within classrooms. Choice is a key component of charter schools and families seeking educational equity, quality, stability and accountability.
Who can attend a charter public school?
Any student in the state can attend a charter public school. Schools are open to all students and are not allowed to select or discriminated against students for any reason. However, if more students want to attend a specific school than there are seats available, a random lottery is used to determine who is admitted. Several schools have waiting lists and may admit students from the wait list as seats become available.
By law, there is an enrollment preference for conversion charter public schools that were formerly DOE schools. Conversion charter schools are required to remain the district area school for the grades they served as a DOE school. This means conversion charter schools must first take students of families residing within their district. Any remaining seats can be filled with students from outside that school’s geographic boundary. (Link to list of conversion schools.)
How does a charter school get authorized?
Since the enactment of a charter school omnibus law (Act 130) in June 2012, the process for starting a charter school requires a nonprofit organization to apply as an authorizer. In Hawaii, there is currently one statewide authorizer, the State Public Charter School Commission.
The application process is rigorous and requires:
A detailed curriculum
A facility and financial plan
Demonstration of parent and community support
Plans for serving students with special needs
A plan for recruiting students
Evidence that the proposed plan is based on proven methods
To learn more about the application cycle and what is entailed for prospective charter school applicants, visit: http://www.chartercommission.hawaii.gov/application-cycle-information
What is a Charter School Governing Board?
Each charter in Hawaii has an independent governing board responsible for the school’s academic, financial and organizational viability. The board also ensures compliance with applicable state and federal laws.
Under Act 130 (2012), the charter school omnibus law, no more than 30 percent of voting members on a governing board can be employees of the school or relatives of campus employees.
When selecting board members, consideration is given to applicants who:
Provide a diversity of perspective and level of objectivity accurately representing the interests of charter school students and the surrounding community;
Demonstrate an understanding of best practices of nonprofit governance; and
Possess strong financial and academic management and oversight abilities; and
Possess human resource and fundraising experience.
Where and when are new charter public schools are opening in Hawaii?
Currently, there are 34 authorized charter public schools in Hawaii. Three more have been authorized to open on Oahu and Kauai in 2017. View our school finder list.
Do charter public schools provide meals and transportation to students?
Several charter public schools over breakfast and lunch to students and provide meals at free and reduced rates for families who qualify. Fewer schools provide transportation for students, this is more typical for students living in rural areas. Parents should inquire with individual schools to learn whether these services are provided.
What types of educational programs do charters offer?
Every charter school is allowed the freedom to create its own educational methodology. Charter school models in Hawai`i include college preparatory programs, STEM and STEAM education, culture-based education, project-based and experiential learning. Some charter schools operate as virtual programs through online curriculums or blended instruction through a combination of face-to-face, virtual and independent learning.
Do charter public schools abide by education laws and the Common Core State Standards?
Yes, charter schools like all public schools must follow Hawaii’s state and federal health, safety, civil rights and anti-discrimination laws as well as the STRIVE-HI Performance System.
How can I gather information about a charter school’s performance and rankings?
The State Public Charter School Commission’s annual report presents an assessment of individual school’s performance based on data calculated through performance frameworks as stated in the Hawaii state statute HRS 302D. The frameworks are utilized by the commission to provide oversight, evaluation, and information in contracting and renewing charter schools. This report provides and overview of the Commission’s performance measures and contains data collected by both the Commission and the Hawaii Department of Education.
Schools also must produce their own annual report that holistically encompasses their mission and vision.