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Starting a School FAQs
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Starting a Colorado Charter Public School
Frequently Asked Questions

Who may apply to open a charter public school?

How long does it take to start a charter public school?

What is a charter application?

When is the charter application due?

Can we submit a charter application directly to the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) if we don’t want to go through our district?

How is the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) different from the Colorado League of Charter Schools? 

How can the Colorado League of Charter Schools help my founding team start a school? 

What if our application is denied by the district/authorizer?

 

 

Who may apply to open a charter public school?

There are no restrictions regarding who applies for a charter public school, however, it is strongly recommended that a group of people work together on the school as opposed to one individual. This group is thought of as a Founding Team (or Steering Committee, Planning Group, etc.) and together they should bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the effort. Valuable expertise that a Founding Team should possess includes, but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • Project Management
  • Financial Management/Accounting
  • Community/Facility Development
  • Administration
  • Education
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing and Outreach
  • Human Resources
  • Entrepreneurial Experience
  • Business/Corporate
  • Latino/Culture Competency
  • Real Estate
  • Law
  • Parents of School Aged Child/ren

If any of the above areas of expertise are lacking on a team it does not preclude them from applying for a charter public school as consultants or specialists can be contracted to assist with these pieces. Contact the Colorado League of Charter Schools for lists of consultants. See Founding Team Guidance  for more information on all of the elements that go into developing a strong Founding Team.

 

How long does it take to start a charter public school?  

Starting a school is an enormous undertaking and founding teams are advised to take enough time to be methodical; establishing support and need, networking within the community, working on school design, establishing the leadership structure, governance and financial model, locating an adequate facility, etc.  We have found that to develop the foundation for a sustainable and high quality school; it takes about three years on average from conception to doors opening.  There are schools that have opened in less time and others that have taken longer, but there are often extenuating circumstances in both cases.  For example, a school that has opened sooner often already has a facility secured or has a founder who can work full time on the application.  And schools that take longer than three years have run into facilities and enrollment challenges or have gone through a lengthy appeal process after being denied by their district.

What is a charter application? 

A charter application is a lengthy document that you create in alignment with statutory requirements and any guidance you receive from your district. If your district doesn’t provide customized application guidelines it is likely that they use the Standard Application Guidebook (always check with your district to see what they want you to use). Regardless of which application guidance your district uses, you should always use the League’s Quality Standards for Developing Charter Schools to provide depth and substance to your application.

 

When is the charter application due?

Each district/authorizer sets their own deadline specifying when they accept charter applications. The Charter Schools Act [C.R.S. 22-30.5-107] sets forth a window between August 1st and October 1st from which each district/authorizer can choose their deadline. That said, some districts have sought waivers from the State Board of Education to accept charter applications at a different time of year (typically in the spring, this enables approved charter public schools to have a longer startup period in which to locate or build facilities, hire staff, order equipment, etc.).  Therefore, an applicant must reach out to their desired district/authorizer to find out when their charter application deadline will be.

 

Can we submit a charter application directly to the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) if we don’t want to go through our district?

An applicant can apply to CSI only if the district of the geographic region in which you wish to start your school does not have their exclusive chartering authority (ECA) or in districts which have retained their ECA but have granted permission to the applicant from the district’s board of education through a resolution (this would occur on a case by case basis). A list of districts and their chartering authority can be found at CDE’s District & Authorizer Info page.

 

How is the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) different from the Colorado League of Charter Schools? 

The Colorado Charter School Institute is an authorizing body established as the state’s only non-district charter school authorizer (see above question for more information). The Colorado League of Charter Schools is a membership organization intended to support Colorado charter schools.

 

How can the Colorado League of Charter Schools help my founding team start a school? 

The New School Development team at the League is made up of founders of successful, Colorado charter schools and has a combined 30 years of experience in Colorado charter school development related work. Founding teams can reach out to us at any time for answers to questions big or small! The vast majority of our services are free and include sharing resources, helping to make critical connections, consulting across a wide variety of questions, providing access to planning grants and an extensive, two-part charter application review.  In addition, our team hosts two critical trainings: Boot Camp for Charter Schools (in April) and Onboarding Your Charter School (in July and November).

 

Do we need to be members of the League to receive new school development support and services?

No. Membership is not a requirement in order to gain access to new school development services. Once your school has opened you can choose to become a member of the League to enjoy the following membership benefits:

  • Local, state and federal advocacy
  • Unlimited job postings on the League’s website
  • Discounts on professional development opportunities
  • Access to vendor directories and discounted, pre-contracted pricing from the League’s endorsed Trusted Providers
  • Access to information, resources, best practices and answers to charter-related questions via our help desk (email charter411@coloradoleague.org)
  • Marketing and communications support
  • Access to employment best practices
  • Guidance, support and technical assistance members wishing to replicate or expand their current school.

On average, 95% of Colorado charter schools become members of the League.

 

What if our application is denied by the district/authorizer?

If a charter application is denied, the League recommends that the applicant review the districts reasons for denial. If the applicant team determines that the districts denial was unfounded, the team may appeal to the State Board of Education within 30 days of the district’s decision.  The Colorado State Board of Education then has 60 days to hear the appeal and may either remand the application back to the district for further consideration or uphold the district’s decision.  

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