Frequently Asked Questions about Charter Schools and PCA
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school of choice that operates under the terms of a charter, or contract, with an authorizer, such as the state and local boards of education. Charter schools receive flexibility from certain state and local rules in exchange for a higher degree of accountability for raising student achievement. Charter schools are held accountable by their authorizer(s) for upholding the terms of their charter.
What is the difference between a charter school and a traditional public school?
Two words can help distinguish charter schools from traditional public schools: autonomy and flexibility. Charter schools are governed, not by a local board of education, but by an autonomous non-profit board of directors, and they receive flexibility from certain state and local rules and regulations in exchange for a higher level of accountability. Charter schools use this flexibility to implement innovative or unique programs, in order to provide educational options to parents and students that are not typically available in the traditional public schools.
What is the difference between a charter school and a private school?
Charter schools are public schools of choice. Unlike private schools, they receive public funding, cannot charge tuition, and are not allowed to have admissions criteria. Also unlike private schools, charter schools are subject to many of the same state and all federal regulations as traditional public schools. For example, charter schools participate in the same statewide assessments and accountability measures as traditional public schools.
How does enrollment for a charter school work?
The only criteria charter schools may have for enrollment are attendance zones. Charter schools are required to conduct a lottery when there are more timely filed applications for admission than there are seats. The lottery must be by random selection, but may allow for priority levels for siblings and employee’s or board member’s children. Students do not have to meet any other criteria than living in the attendance zone and completing a timely pre-enrollment application with basic identifying and contact information.
What grades are served in PCA's charter?
PCA started out in 2010 with Kindergarten through 6th grade and grew one grade level each year. Now, PCA serves grades K-12 under its charter contract with the State Charter Schools Commission. However, Pataula Charter Academy, Inc. also operates a Pre-K program. For more information on PCA's Pre-K, click on the Pre-K link under the Outsources tab.