Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools that operate under a “charter” contract between the board of the charter school and the charter school’s authorizing entity (either the school district or Charter School Institute). 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.

Charter public schools, just like traditional public schools, are tuition-free and open to all students. They receive state funding based on a formula that considers the number of children enrolled in the school.

What is a charter authorizer?

A charter authorizer is an entity 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 1) 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, and 2) 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. Learn more about Colorado’s charter school authorizer context and CSI.

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 legal 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.
A charter school is proposing to locate in my community. How do I get involved?
The Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) encourages, and state law requires, parent and community engagement throughout the application processHere are some ways to engage.
To whom is a charter school responsible?

A charter school is accountable to the families in the school, the local school district or Charter School Institute, and the state. The charter school authorizer sponsors the charter school and, through a contract, has outlined certain provisions the charter school is responsible to fulfill. More details about the various ways a charter school is held accountable can be accessed here

Where can I find out how the schools in my community are performing?
The Colorado Department of Education’s SchoolView online platform allows people to view information about each public school in the state. If you are interested in learning how schools authorized by CSI are performing and viewing CSI Annual Review of Schools (CARS) reports, visit the School Accountability page
Do charter schools serve Special Education, Gifted Education, and English Language Learners?

Like all public schools, charter schools are open to all students. CSI schools serve all students, including students with special needs, students with gifted abilities, and students who are emerging multilingual learners.

Each CSI school has developed its own plan for identifying, serving, and evaluating students with special needs, students with gifted abilities, and students who are emerging multilingual learners. These program plans ensure schools are implementing programming in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements and in alignment with their unique educational models. If you have further questions, call 303-866-3299 or email

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