Public charter schools, or community schools, are independently operated public schools, overseen by the state, with more flexibility than traditional district schools to make decisions around curriculum, scheduling, staffing and learning environments. Charter schools operate under a contract with an authorized sponsoring entity and are expected to produce certain results that are set forth in each school's charter.
There are two types of charter schools. Online charter schools offer students an education that is completed on the computer, while a bricks-and-mortar charter school offers students an education that takes place inside a building.
While charter schools are often differentiated from district schools, the line is not always so clear: Roughly 10% of Ohio's charter schools are sponsored by public school districts.
Local school districts are required to provide transportation for all students in grades K-8 to and from their charter school as long as the student lives more than two miles away and the charter school is no more than 30 minutes away from their neighborhood school. School districts are not required to provide transportation for students in grades 9-12, however some districts may provide other means of transportation. You should check your local school district’s website for local guidelines.
If a district deems a student “impractical to transport,” parents can receive a payment of $250 at the end of the school year for transportation costs. While lack of transportation can be a huge barrier, parents can carpool to reduce the costs of transportation and help draw families with students attending the school together.
There is no tuition charge to parents to send their child to a charter schools.
School vouchers or state-funded scholarships cannot be used to attend charter schools because they are already tuition-free.
Charter schools receive $5,745 per student from the state of Ohio. Like other public schools, they receive poverty-based support and limited facility funding on top of the per-pupil funding, but they are not able to access local tax funding. The only exception is Cleveland, where approved charter schools receive local tax funding through a locally-supported levy. Charter schools also operate with support from federal tax funding, foundation grants, and privately raised philanthropic support.
If you want to send your child to a charter school, the process is simple. You just sign your child up to attend that school. Really – it’s that simple! Charter schools cannot have any admission criteria at all. They cannot turn away students unless more students apply than they have seats. In that case, there would be a lottery to award spots on a random basis. So, if you find a charter school that you want your child to attend, simply call or visit and sign up.
Charter school teachers are required to hold a valid Ohio teaching license and meet the same requirements as all public school teachers.