What is a Charter School?

A charter school is a tuition-free public school operated by an independent board of directors that may be composed of parents, teachers and community members. A charter school is a school of choice within the school district, operating under a contract or “charter” between the board of the charter school community and the DCSD Board of Education.

The “charter,” as defined in the Charter Schools Act (Sections 22-30.5-101et. seq. C.R.S.), spells out the school’s mission and vision, academic goals, performance standards, educational design, governance and operations. Charter schools generally operate free from from many of the regulatory requirements applicable to other public schools; however, charter schools operate under the charter philosophy of “autonomy in exchange for accountability.” School-centered governance, autonomy, and a clear design for how and what students will learn are the essential characteristics of a charter school. Charter school students are still required to take all state-mandated standardized tests, just like all other public school students. In addition, charter schools must provide the appropriate levels of services to students with special needs, English language learners, gifted and talented students, and all other students admitted to the charter school.

Charter School Benefits



    The educational program is uniquely tailored to each school and community it serves.


All budget and personnel decisions are made at the school level.


Charter schools have a multi-tiered accountability system that includes parents, authorizers, the state, and lenders.


Charter schools thrive with an active community of parents.

Charter School Facts


There are more than 5,000 charter schools nationwide educating more than 1.6 million children.


The Charter Schools Act was passed in 1999, in Colorado.


There are approximately 40,000 students on charter school wait lists statewide.

There are more than 160 charter schools in Colorado educating more than 66,000 children

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