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Stage 3: Charter Application

Stage 3: Draft Your Charter Application


Different states have different charter submission periods. Some are rolling and some are due on a specific day, but regardless of when you turn it in you should spend a lot of time on the charter application and make sure you express your business plan and vision in a cogent and precise manner. A letter of intent might be required long before the actual charter application, and there may be required workshops, trainings, or conferences to attend in order to qualify for submission.

Check with your state’s charter school organization for guidance!

Your state’s charter school organization is there to help you, and if they don’t know the answer off the top of their heads they can send you to the resources that will help you figure it out. However, understand that they are not free consultants, and the guidance they provide is usually pro-bono, unless they offer special services for a set fee.

We’ve collected application data from states all over the country, and below are some examples of what is frequently required in a charter application:

  • Mission statement and general business idea
    • Student market and types of students you plan to serve
    • Local public school performance (conventional and charter)
    • Specialized model description (Autism, foreign languages, STEM/STEAM, etc.)
  • Educational model and curriculum
    • Size of school, down to the grade, and a year-to-year ramp up to full enrollment
    • Enrollment policies, including details on lottery structure for waitlists
    • Lesson planning
    • Blended learning
    • Goal setting, bench marking, and proficiency standards
    • Grading and GPA calculation
    • Assessments and standardized testing
    • Instructional strategies
    • Classroom technology
    • Parental involvement
    • Relevant student information systems or reporting structure
    • Uniform policy and parental volunteerism requirements
    • Professional development
    • Teacher evaluation strategy
    • Transition from elementary to middle (if running a K-8)
    • New teacher training
    • Exceptional student education (ESE) policies and individualized education plan (IEP)
    • Specialized programs for English Language Learners (ELL)
    • Discipline, suspension, and expulsion policies
    • School day schedule
    • Annual calendar (including holidays that might not be observed by the local District)
  • EMO/CMO/ESP profile
    • List of roles, responsibilities, and services provided by ESP
    • Service and/or management track record
    • Internal controls over ESP by governing board
    • Snapshot of ESP’s current network
  • Human Resources
    • Salary schedule and any bonus structure that may be applicable
    • Teacher certification policies
    • Student/teacher ratios
    • Professional development policies
    • Office/school culture
    • Retirement planning
  • School budget
    • 3-5 year budget showing profitability
    • All revenue assumptions based off per pupil funding
    • Future or pending grant applications
    • Capital expenditures (computers, software, furnishings, etc.)
    • Food service revenue and Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) plan
    • Capital outlay funding (if applicable)
    • Management fee paid to ESP
    • Salary increases over time
    • Cumulative fund balances over time
    • Financial controls and voluntary audit/review policy
    • Insurance coverage
  • Facilities
    • Future build outs
    • Any shared spaces with other establishments
    • Cost of construction, due diligence, architectural, engineering, etc.
    • Lease/ownership agreement
    • Back-up facilities plan
  • Governance
    • Resumes and background checks of all board members
    • Conflicts of interest disclaimer
    • Organizational hierarchy
    • “Arm’s Length” policy if using an ESP or management company
    • Articles of Incorporation and non-profit status
    • Foundation by-laws

Each board member should be made responsible for his/her respective portion of the charter (e.g. your Treasurer should draft the budget, your Education specialist should do the curriculum, etc.). You might consider having a professional editor read through it after it’s done, checking for errors, omissions, conflicting evidence, or anything else that could harm your charter application if overlooked. Once you’re completely happy with the charter application (which is hopefully well before the deadline), edit it again yourself and submit it.