FAQ

Questions about Charter Schools

What are charter schools and what makes them unique?

Charter schools are FREE public schools that offer personalized learning experiences for students, no matter their needs, circumstances, and learning styles. Charter schools offer freedom and flexibility for families in choosing a type of education of their children and schools have more flexibility to innovate and implement unique programs for students.

Are charter schools free to attend?

Charter schools are public schools and are FREE to attend.

How are charter schools funded?

Charters schools are primarily funded through the state of New York, and may also receive funding from federal or foundational grants. Charter schools typically receive less public funding than nearby traditional district schools.

How does a student enroll in a charter school?

Charter schools have an open admissions process during their enrollment period, typically in the early spring. According to the terms of their charter agreement, charter schools have a specified number of seats available for each grade level. If there are more applications than seats available, charter schools will conduct a randomized public lottery. Once a student is chosen through the lottery, they cannot be turned down for any reason.

Who can attend a charter school?

Charter schools are open to all NYS students, no matter their ZIP code. When there are more applicants than seats available, charter schools must hold a random public lottery to admit students. Charter schools are held accountable for meeting enrollment and retention targets for disadvantaged groups of students.

How is the performance of a charter school evaluated?

Charters are initially allotted a term of 5 years by one of the two statewide charter school authorizers — the SUNY Board of Trustees or the New York State Board of Regents. As a part of this process, the school creates a charter, or plan, that includes standards for test performance, graduation rates (if applicable) and operational requirements to which it is held accountable. A school’s authorizer performs an annual audit which can include written reports and site visits to determine if the school is meeting the standards set forth in its charter. When it is up for renewal, a school that is deemed to have successfully met these requirements are allowed to continue operating for up to 5 more years at a time. Schools that have not met their requirements may receive additional conditions to meet to continue operating, given shorter renewal term limits, or may even be closed.

Are charter school teachers required to be certified?

In New York, teachers in a given charter school are required to have standard teaching certifications, with the exception of up to 30% or 5 teachers (whichever is less), who may possess other qualifying credentials or requisite experience.

How do charter school students perform relative to other students?

Charter school students are often outpacing and improving faster than their traditional public school peers. More than 80% of public charter school students in New York are outpacing their traditional public school peers in year over year academic improvement in math and English Language Arts.

Questions About Applying

Can I apply at any time during the year?

Yes, although the best time to apply for the next school year is by the lottery deadline (usually early April). Applying by the lottery gives you the best chance of the school having openings. Some schools have openings even after the lottery. Even if the lottery deadline has passed, you are encouraged to apply.

Is it possible to apply for the current school year and transfer my child now?

If the school you have applied to has current open seats, your child may be considered for immediate enrollment. It is possible to transfer to a school even after the academic year has begun. Applications are accepted year round. Parents are encouraged to contact schools directly to find out if there are open seats in the current school year.

Once I apply, is my child enrolled?

No. This website is a portal for applications, not enrollment. Families will be notified of enrollment by the schools to which they apply.

If I have more than one child, do I need to complete an application for each of them?

Yes. You need to complete an application for each child.

What is the lottery?

If a public charter school receives more applications than it has open seats available, the school conducts a lottery.Names are drawn at random through a computer program and families are notified automatically.After the lottery has been drawn, students will either be given an enrollment offer or be added to school waitlists. Students may be accepted at more than one school.

What is the deadline to apply?

To participate in the lotteries, applications must be received before the lottery deadline (usually early April). Following this date, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. If a school is fully enrolled, then students will be placed on a waitlist. Families are encouraged to apply even if the lottery deadline has passed.

How long does it take to apply?

Applying only takes a few minutes!

If I am out of district, can I still apply for my child?

Yes. The process to apply is the same for all families, no matter where they live.