For Parents & Public

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charter school?

  • The Colorado Charter Schools Act was adopted in 1993 with the intent to "implement new and innovative methods of educating children that are proven to be effective and to take responsible risks and create new and innovative, research-based ways of educating all children within the public education system." (CRS 22-30.5-102)
  • Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools.
  • Like all other public schools, charter schools receive state funding based on a formula that considers the number of enrolled children at the school.
  • Charter schools operate under a "charter" contract between the board of the charter school and the board the charter school authorizer. The "charter" contract is defined in the Charter Schools Act (C.R.S. 22-30.5-101 et. seq.), and the contract outlines the school’s goals, performance standards, education design, governance, and operations.
  • Charter schools commit to meeting the specific academic, financial, and operational performance goals outlined in their charter contract and state and federal law but have flexibility in determining how to achieve those goals.
  • There’s a charter school in my neighborhood, but it’s not listed on this CSI website. Why? In Colorado, most school districts and the Colorado Charter School Institute have the authority to authorize charter schools. If there is a charter school in your neighborhood that isn’t listed on our website, it is authorized by the local school district, and you should contact them for more information.

For a listing of charter schools authorized by the state’s Charter School Institute, click on School Portfolio.

For a listing of all charter schools in the state of Colorado, please visit the Colorado League of Charter School’s website.

What is a charter authorizer?

“The Charter School Authorizer engages in responsible oversight of charter schools by ensuring that schools have both the autonomy to which they are entitled and the public accountability for which they are responsible.” (1 CCR 301-88)

  • A charter authorizer is an agency designated by the state that is responsible for overseeing charter schools. In Colorado, authorizers include the state’s Charter School Institute as well as most school districts.
  • Charter authorizers are responsible for:
  • Setting and monitoring performance expectations. This includes setting transparent and rigorous performance expectations for academics, finance, and operations and monitoring school progress against these expectations.
  • Reviewing and acting upon charter applications. This includes approving or denying new charter school applications as well as expansion, replication, renewal, and transfer applications for existing charter schools.

For a listing of the charter school authorizers in Colorado, please visit the Colorado Department of Education’s Schools of Choice Unit webpage.