A Charter is a basic license issued by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and the State Board of Education (SBE) that is given to a non-profit organization (NPO) to administer a publicly funded state school. NPOs making an application for a charter must declare a specific mission and vision for the school that is different from the traditional public schools in the area. The State Legislature caps the number of charter schools in North Carolina at 100.
Charter schools are governed by a Board of Directors, rather than a locally elected Board of Education, as are other traditional public schools. This Board of Directors is responsible for the actions of the school and must report directly to NCDPI rather than through a School Superintendent. Charter schools serve as their own Local Education Agency (LEA).
Since the charter school serves as its own LEA, it is much easier for these schools to be innovative and meet the needs of each individual student within the mission of the school. The school is able to be creative with scheduling, resources, technology, and much more.
Charter schools receive per-student funds and must adhere to all state and federal education, safety and health statutes. One major advantage for charter schools is the ability to allocate money as it sees fit as opposed to restricting certain monies to certain categories, as is the practice with traditional public schools.
Charter schools are open to any student in North Carolina as opposed to being restricted to a zone or community. Restrictions are placed on enrollment by agreement with the school and the SBE on a yearly basis. Applicants may not be restricted by any criteria other than facility space or the cap established yearly with the SBE.
As schools of choice, charter schools are often more accountable to parents and guardians. However, it is important that students interested in attending a charter school, as well as their parents, fully understand the mission of the school and be willing to work within the guidelines, goals, and expectations established by the school administration and the Board of Directors.