Frequently Asked Questions
Public charter schools are providing hundreds of thousands of Texas students with high-quality public education, allowing families in the state to choose the type of learning environment that is best for them.
Families in Bastrop are learning more about public charter schools and they want the same option available for their own children. The following information is helpful in answering frequently asked questions about public charter schools and our mission at Bastrop CAN.
What is the purpose of Bastrop CAN?
- Bastrop CAN was launched by a group of parents who want additional educational options for their children. Together, these parents are working to educate others in the community about the opportunity to recruit a public charter school to Bastrop County. Bastrop CAN is committed to educating and empowering parents with resources and tools to advocate for expanding school choice options in Bastrop.
Where will the charter school be located in Bastrop?
- Location of any new charter school in Bastrop will be determined by the school. Bastrop CAN recently launched a survey to understand the demand of the community for a charter school and that data will be provided to any interested charter. The survey data does include geographical information that could influence the location of a future charter school.
When will the charter school open in Bastrop?
- Bastrop CAN is working very closely with several prominent and high-performing charter operators to discuss the potential of opening a new campus in Bastrop. There are certain requirements for charter schools to expand and open new campuses so we are thoughtfully engaging with charter operators that have opportunities to expand. Therefore, it is unclear exactly when a new charter school would open but our goal would be to have at least one public charter school available for the 2021 – 2022 school year.
Which charter school will be opening in Bastrop?
- Bastrop CAN is conducting outreach to several prominent, high-performing charter networks to ensure they understand the growing demand for a charter school in Bastrop County. While it is unclear which charter school will open, as long as we continue to show demand, the interest from charter operators will continue to grow!
What grades will the charter school serve?
- Since it has not been determined which public charter school will open in Bastrop, the grade levels served have not been selected. The ultimate goal of Bastrop CAN is to support the creation of charter schools that will serve students k-12. However, based on the models of various public charter schools, there may be a situation where a charter decides to open initially with an elementary or middle school campus and phase in additional grades over time; this decision is up to the individual charter schools.
How can I get involved with Bastrop CAN or show my support for opening a charter school in Bastrop County?
- It’s never been more important to have your voice heard than right now. Families in Bastrop County are coming together to show their support for public school choice and you can join the effort by signing up on our website and sharing our content with your family, friends, and neighbors. Together we will expand school choice for families in our community!
Charter Schools 101
What is a charter school?
- Charter schools are public, tuition-free, and open to all students. Unlike a traditional one-size-fits-all approach to education, public charter schools put the needs of students first by giving them the time and personalized attention they need to really learn. Charter schools are given greater flexibility to serve students’ individual needs, and with that flexibility comes greater oversight than traditional public schools. They are held accountable to high financial, academic, and managerial standards by oversight boards made up of parents, teachers, and community members. Charter schools currently educate 6% of Texas public school students, but make up more than 60% of A-rated districts in the state.
How are charter schools funded?
- Charter schools do not charge tuition. Public charter schools are authorized by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and are funded through the state’s Foundation School Program—just like traditional ISDs. Charter schools receive state funds based on the number of students who attend (same as traditional public schools). However, charter schools receive less funding than traditional public schools because they do not receive any local taxpayer dollars. Texas school districts receive state and local funding to educate their students. Public charter schools, however, receive no local tax dollars. Because traditional ISDs receive both local and state funding, there is a funding gap. In 2018-19, public charters are receiving an average of $10,721 per pupil, and ISD schools receive $11,397.
Are charter schools for-profit organizations?
- For-profit charter schools are not allowed in Texas. Under Texas law, open-enrollment charters may only be operated by one of four types of entities. Those entities include public institutions of higher education, private or independent institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, or governmental entities.
How are charter schools held accountable?
- Public charter schools in Texas must meet high standards for academic and financial performance — as well follow federal, state, and local regulations that ensure good governance and student welfare.
- Unlike ISD schools, public charters must submit their academic calendars to state education authorities for approval and release their waiting lists. Charters in Texas also face harsher consequences for violating open meetings laws. Charter schools are also subject to strict financial scrutiny, and must publicly report on their financial management through the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), to ensure most of their money is being spent on actually helping kids learn.
- Both public charters and ISDs have an A-F accountability system for academic and financial performance. But charters are comprehensively evaluated by the state using a long list of indicators. Any public charter that receives a failing grade from the state for three straight years must close – no appeals allowed. This “three strikes” rule is far stricter than laws concerning low- performing ISD schools.
- In order to open new schools, public charters must meet rigorous performance benchmarks and secure approval from the State Education Agency, State Board of Education, and Attorney General (for bond agreements).
Are public charter schools preparing students for college and career success?
- Yes! Public charters send an average of 4% more students to college than ISD schools every year. More important, public charters send higher percentages of historically underserved students to college. In fact, Texas public charters send two times the number of special education students to college than traditional schools. On average, 9% more public charter school students overall are college, career and military ready than those in traditional ISD schools. Simply put, charter schools are living up their promise to improve post-secondary outcomes for students in the state and helping students create a better future for themselves and their families.
How do I enroll my child in a charter school?
- Most charter schools have an enrollment period when parents can submit applications for the school. If there are more applications submitted than seats available, they will hold a randomized blind lottery. Any charter school that opens in Bastrop will be heavily promoted and advertised through Bastrop CAN so you can stay updated on important information, timelines, and application periods by visiting our website or contacting our team.
Do public charter schools have admission requirements?
- No, charter schools do not have admission requirements or entrance exams. Though many charter schools are in high demand and when that demand exceeds the spaces available in the school, a charter school may hold a randomized, blind lottery to determine which students are admitted or may preference students by need or location.
Do public charter schools hurt the local ISD schools?
- Both ISDs and charters are performing better as charters expand. From 2012 to 2019, as total statewide charter enrollment nearly tripled, the average district raised its student achievement between 4% and 8%, depending on the grade and subject tested. ISDs with charter schools within their boundaries get better faster than their ISD peers with no charter schools in their boundaries.
Do charter schools serve students with special learning needs and disabilities?
- Charter schools embrace student differences. In charter schools with the most autonomy and flexibility over their special education programs, students with disabilities are educated in inclusive learning environments at higher rates than in traditional public schools.Public charter schools are required to provide special education supports and services to kids with learning needs and disabilities. They also must provide what’s known as free appropriate public education (FAPE). This is an important legal right for kids in special education. In recent years, charter schools have increased their capacity and gained flexibility and funding in special education. As a result, charter schools are serving more and more students with disabilities. Many charter schools now serve approximately the same proportion, or more, of students with disabilities as traditional district schools.
Do charter schools offer extracurricular and co-curricular activities such as sports and clubs?
- Yes! Just like your neighborhood ISD schools, charter schools offer a rich diversity of extracurricular and co-curricular activities. Many charter schools will tailor their offerings to meet the needs and interests of their students. A variety of sports teams, fine arts programs and STEM based clubs are offered. One of the great things about charter schools is their ability to adapt and innovate – even when it comes to extracurricular and co-curricular activities!
Do you have to live in a certain area for your child to attend a charter school?
- You do not have to live in a certain area or zip code to attend a public charter school. They are often called “open-enrollment” charter schools because they are open to all students. Charter schools typically do not provide transportation so it is up to parents to arrange for transportation for their children.
Do charter schools offer transportation?
- Charter schools do not offer transportation services to students. Enrolled students must provide their own transportation to and from school and school-related activities.
Are charter schools affiliated with any particular religion?
- As with other public schools, charter schools may not provide religious instruction, but they may teach about religion from a secular perspective. And though charter schools must be neutral with respect to religion, they may play an active role in teaching civic values.