Charter Schools: An Overview
While most individuals embrace the generic definition of a charter school, there is much confusion about their legal standing, governance and sources of funding. The Washoe County School District sponsors eight charter schools over a span of eleven campuses.
Charter schools are public schools funded with taxpayer dollars. Charters get the same per-pupil allocation from the state as a public school district. They monitor enrollment the same as public schools; and they receive their funding directly from the state based on their official enrollment. They are also eligible for Title 1 funds on the same basis as other schools. In addition, they get a proportionate share of special education dollars if they are serving eligible children.
What is a "charter" and how are these schools different from regular public schools?
Organizers who wish to start a charter school underneath WCSD sponsorship must notify the Nevada Department of Education and complete a formal application with WCSD to ensure that they comply with all state statutes. The charter applicant then approaches the WCSD Board of Trustees for a "charter" which is an agreement between the organizers and the Board granting them permission to operate the school.
The school has its own governing body directing its operations. State law states sponsoring districts may not interfere in the normal, day-to-day business of charter schools. So, charters are free to chart their own course, free of many, but not all, rules and regulations covering other schools.
For example, charters can use a unique curriculum and different instructional methods. Students, however, are still expected to meet state or district academic standards and they must take all state-mandated tests. The schools cannot be affiliated with nor controlled by any church, may not engage in religious instruction and may not discriminate on who attends.
WCSD Administrator of Charter School Oversight
5450 Riggins Ct., Reno NV 89502