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The Formation of Charter Schools in Colorado

The Charter Schools Act was adopted in 1993, allowing for the formation of charter schools in Colorado. The law was passed with the intent to “create a legitimate avenue for parents, teachers, and community members 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)

The Creation of the Charter School Institute

In response to the growing demand for more charter schools, the desire for innovative models serving at-risk students, and to have an alternate mode of authorizing charter schools than the traditional district charter school authorizer, the Legislature created the State Charter School Institute in 2004 (CRS 22-30.5-501). Like the already existing school district authorizers, CSI was created with the authority to approve or deny charter applications, set expectations and oversee performance for its own charter schools, and determine whether to renew or close a school based on its performance. 


The Current CSI Portfolio of Schools

CSI began its work by authorizing two charter schools in 2005. Through the creation of new charter schools, the transfer of existing charter schools in and out of the portfolio, and the expansion, replication, and closure of existing CSI schools, the CSI portfolio has expanded and contracted over time and now includes 40 schools, serving over 18,000 PK-12 students across the state. View our authorization timeline.

CSI Celebrates 15 Years

Watch the CSI 15th Anniversary video, recording the history of CSI through interviews, or read the publication Expanding Frontiers in Public Education to learn more about CSI’s creation, early years, and continued focuses.

Learn More About Charter School Oversight

Charter School Authorizing 101

Understanding Charter School Oversight

Why Authorizing Matters for Quality


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