CHARTER SCHOOL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHAT IS A CHARTER SCHOOL? Charter schools are public schools created through a businesslike contract or "charter" between the charter governance board and the sponsoring school board. Charter schools have freedom from most state rules and regulations in exchange for greater accountability for results. Charter schools foster an environment for innovation and parental choice, and fulfill a specific local need in education. They can exist as living laboratories that influence the larger public school system. Their leaders may experiment with different instructional theories, site-based management techniques, and other innovations. They learn, sometimes by trial and error, what works best for their student population. Regular schools can observe and learn from what happens in the charter school and make similar improvements. Through this process, the entire public school system is continually challenged to improve itself. WHY DO WE WANT A CHARTER SCHOOL? The parents initiating Quaking Aspen Field School (QAFS) are passionate about education, children, and the community, and feel that educational choice will benefit everyone. A charter school gives us the freedom to teach our children with an alternative curriculum, teaching methodology, and classroom structure. WHO CAN ATTEND A CHARTER SCHOOL? Any child in the district can attend a charter school. There is no entrance exam, no tuition, no pre-requisites. In addition, any child from another district can open-enroll into the charter school. HOW IS A CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDED? A charter school is funded by education tax dollars, just like any public school. Our school district receives revenue from the state and from local property taxes, which currently amounts to approximately $17,000 per student. The charter school negotiates a cost per student rate with the district, which then becomes the operating income for the charter school. The difference between what the school district receives, and what the charter school charges remains with the district. In addition to funds from the district, the charter school is eligible to receive state and federal grants for planning and start-up. WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SOUTH SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT IN RELATION TO THE CHARTER SCHOOL? Wisconsin divides its charter schools into two types: Instrumentality and non-instrumentality. QAFS would be a non-instrumentality, which means that it will have authority over its own curriculum, own budget, and own staff. It will be responsible for its own liability insurance and spending within its budget. Our contract with South Shore School district means that QAFS is a subcontractor for educational services. Both parties are responsible for upholding the terms of the contract. WHAT IS THE CONTRACT? The charter is a performance contract detailing the schoolâ€™s mission, program, goals, students served, and methods of assessment. The charter school is then performing a contracted service for an established dollar amount as set forth in the charter. WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THIS SCHOOL? Charter schools have a separate governing board that has authority to determine governance process, school policies, budget, contracts, staffing, and educational programs. In return, the school is held accountable to comply with its contract, and state and federal educational standards. WHAT IS OUR TIMELINE? We are asking the school board to approve our charter school proposal so we can continue our planning process. We will submit our grant proposal to the state in April, and we will then have a planning year to finalize plans for the school. It would then open in the fall of 2012.