The charter school model is simply a different way of organizing and operating a public school. The charter school model is made up of two fundamental components:
- A charter school board that is responsible only for its individual school and functions independently of the traditional school district. The board of a charter school makes policies and sets a budget that focuses only on the students in its program. This freedom allows a charter school board to make decisions and take action in direct response to the needs of students. These decisions may include purchasing materials, modifying services, and ensuring appropriate staff is in place. As the needs of students and families change, a charter school board can address those emerging issues expediently.
- A sponsor that holds the charter school accountable for specific academic and non-academic outcomes. The “charter” in charter school is essentially the contract between a sponsoring entity and a charter school board. This contract addresses the outcomes for which the school agrees to be held responsible, the manner in which progress toward these outcomes will be measured, and actions the sponsor will take based on the school’s ability or inability to reach its goals. Many sponsors also provide students and families in charter schools with access to additional programs and opportunities. Eligible charter school sponsors in Missouri include the Kansas City and St. Louis public school districts, certain colleges and universities meeting geographic and programmatic requirements, community colleges located in Kansas City or St. Louis public school districts, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.These two fundamental elements allow charter schools the freedom to respond, innovate, and operate in the best interests of students and families. In exchange for that freedom, charter schools are accountable to both the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and a charter sponsor for a variety of outcomes. Unlike most traditional public schools, charter school programs are to be closed or replaced when they fail to meet the goals set forth in their respective charters.