Charter schools are free, public schools open to all students. Charter schools give parents a choice to sending their children to a school that uses innovative methods to provide a quality education. A charter school is designed by a group of parents, educators, and/or community members and is mission driven. They follow the same rules and regulations as public schools and participate in the same state-mandated assessments. Parents must apply to enroll their children in charter schools. Charter schools are operated by independent boards and are given permission to operate by an approved authorizer.
In 1998, Idaho's legislature passed the Idaho Charter School Law. Since the law was passed, a total of 61 charter schools have opened and nine (9) of the schools have closed.
The List of Idaho Charter Schools provides information regarding the type of school, the location, and the schools webpage. Idaho has a mix of charter schools including: traditional or brick and mortar schools; blended models with onsite and online capabilities; and fully online programs.
Public charter schools are recognized nationally and internationally as a way of innovating education. Charter developers are considered educational entrepreneurs, visionary thinkers, and institution builders. They create learning laboratories and provide a venue for new skills and mindsets. Successful public charter schools provide quality education programs that focus on high achievement for all students; they are also well run non-profit businesses.
The timeline from the vision of a charter school to implementation can vary greatly. Idaho Statute requires that petitions be submitted to the initial authorized chartering entity no later than September 1 and approved no later than January 1 in order to open in the following school year. The State Department of Education (SDE) provides direct assistance to individuals or groups interested in founding charter schools.
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