What is a Charter School?
According to the SED website:
Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students in New York State through a non-discriminatory admissions lottery. Each charter school is governed by a not-for-profit board of trustees which may include educators,community members, and leaders from the private sector. Charters have freedom to establish their own policies, design their own educational program, and manage their human and financial resources. Charter schools are accountable, through the terms of a five-year performance contract, for high student achievement.
Charter schools were established to:
Provide families with an increased number of high quality school choices; The District has a Magnet School (school of choice), a "good Neighbor" policy, and procedures for requesting special permission to attend a different school.
Improve student achievement. The NFHS graduation rate has risen 20 pts in10 years.
Increase learning opportunities for all students, with an emphasis on at-risk students. So far, charter schools that have been proposed in our community have not proposed one instructional program the District hasn’t already had for years.
Encourage use of innovative teaching methods/educational designs. The District has interactive whiteboards throughout the District, introduced the Workshop Modelof Instruction, is focused on applied learning through scientific experimentation and math manipulatives. In addition, the District is currently constructing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) labs in every school.
Create new professional opportunities for teachers, administrators, school staff. The District engages in more professional development for teachers than any district around, and works in partnership with Niagara University to keep teachers’ skills current.
Change from rule-based to performance-based accountability. The District, like every other educational Pre K-12 entity in the State, is highly accountable to the NY State Education Department.
Charter schools can hire up to 30% uncertified teachers.
ALL District teachers are certified in the area in which they teach.
Currently, Niagara Charter takes $3.9 million from the District's operating budget, and has 340 students.
The home district is still responsible to provide all special education services at its own cost. In fact, special education services have to go to the student at the charter school. Whereas Catholic school students receive s rvices, if needed, but those students have to be transported to a public school to receive the services.
A review of representative charter high schools in New York State has shown each to have a very small population of students with disabilities in proportion to their total “all student” enrollment.
Due to this, the Student with Disabilities cell cannot be reported out for NCLB accountability purposes thereby maximizing the potential to remain “a school in good standing” even with the possibility of the students with disabilities not meeting standard. There are simply not enough students with disabilities to make a complete accountability group to impact on student achievement targets, therefore charters that adhere to this number game officially remain in “good standing.”) This makes for good publicity but is an injustice to both communities served and the neediest of our populations.
Our community, our school district:
The Niagara Falls City School District