What is a Charter School?

A charter school is a public school that operates as its own Local Education Agency or Board of Education under a charter granted by the Commissioner of Education. A charter school must apply for approval and follow a unique or special mission that supports the State’s goals for charter schools.

Charter schools are tuition-free, with 90% of the local sending district’s funding following the student to the charter school of the family’s choice.

Charter schools must provide open enrollment. They are open to all students on a space-available basis with preference given to students from the charter school’s district or region of residence.

A charter school is independent of the local school district’s board of education and is managed by it’s own board of trustees.

More than 92 charter schools currently operate in New Jersey.

The state’s charter school law was passed to give parents choices for their children’s education. The law is intended to:

  • Improve student learning and achievement;
  • Increase the availability of choice to parents and students when selecting a learning environment;
  • Encourage the use of different and innovative learning methods;
  • Establish a new system of accountability for schools;
  • Make the school the unit for educational improvement;
  • Establish new professional opportunities for teachers.

Founders of a charter school can be teaching staff members, parents with children attending schools of the district or a combination of both, as well as institutions of higher education or a private entity located within the state in conjunction with teaching staff members and parents.

Over 35,000 students are enrolled in public charter schools across the state.