What is a Charter School...
Charter Schools are schools of choice. Choice to parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Parents and students get to choose to enroll in a school that may offer a unique learning environment, alternative learning methodologies, etc. Teachers and administrators get more authority to make decisions than most traditional public schools. Basically, these schools are free from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.
Charter Schools tend to be small schools (median enrollment is 242 students compared to 539 in traditional public schools) and serve different communities with a wide variety of curriculum and instructional practices.
Charters are granted for a particular period of time, usually for 3-5 years, which are renewed after the end of the term by the granting entity. A charter is a performance contract that provides details about that school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success – a business plan so to speak. These schools are under constant pressure to perform well, as they are accountable to their sponsor, usually a state or local school board for good academic results. The charter school administration must adhere to their charter contract. In fact, these schools enjoy greater autonomy in return for accountability. Instead of being asked to comply with various rules and regulations, they are measured on the yardstick of academic results and adherence to their charter.
In order for a charter school to work, you have to have a) the proper state legislation, b) the people who want to run the charter school and c) the state’s authorizing entity (usually a board). To open a charter school, the administrators must first submit a charter school proposal to their state’s charter authorizing entity, which varies from state to state depending on the state’s charter law. For example, in California there are three types of authorizers: the governing board of the school districts, county boards of education, or the state board. Generally, four types of entities authorize charter schools: the local school board, state universities, community colleges, and the state board of education.
To better understand what a charter school is, you need to know what lawmakers seek to do by drafting charter school laws. In most states, they want to:
- Increase opportunities for learning and provide access to quality education for people.
- Create choice for parents and students within the public school system
- Provide a system of accountability
- Encourage innovative teaching practices
- Create new professional opportunities for teachers
- Encourage community and parent involvement in public education.
(Source: US Charter Schools (http://www.uscharterschools.org)
All teachers at Manatee School For the Arts are fully licensed by the State of Florida, and MSA is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, we are the only accredited middle school in Manatee County.All students at MSA take part in the FSA (Florida State Assessment) as students do in any other school across the state, and we receive a school grade from the State of Florida.Manatee School For the Arts originally submitted an application for charter to the Manatee County School Board in 1997, opening the school’s doors for the first time in the 1998-1999 school year. Originally opening with just 6th and 7th grades and 250 students, the school has grown to encompass grades 6-12 and 2100 students. MSA’s current charter, or contract, extends through the 2023 school year.For more information about the history of MSA, check out our history page!!