What is a Charter School?

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Charter schools are public schools with a unique educational philosophy that offers an alternative to the traditional public schools. As a public school, there is no tuition. Students must apply and are selected on a lottery basis or via a waitlist.

The “charter” establishing each such school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served and ways to measure success.

New Hampshire charter schools report directly to the state’s Department of Education in Concord. Students are expected to meet or exceed all state academic requirements and participate in standardized assessment testing.

To view The Birches Academy’s charter application, please click here.

There is no tuition to attend The Birches Academy. Students must be New Hampshire residents to apply.

facts about charter schools

  • Charter Schools are open enrollment with no tuition. If there are more applications than spaces available, a lottery is held to determine who will be admitted.

  • Students at Charter Schools must take the same standardized test as traditional public school; in some cases they take more.

  • Charter Schools must show tangible results of academic improvement. As a result, they are held to a greater accountability.

  • Charter Schools are accountable for both academic results and fiscal practices to several groups, including the sponsors that grant the charter, the parents who choose to send their children to the school and the state government that funds them.

  • On average, $11,753 is spent per year, per student in New Hampshire. NH charter schools receive $5,597 per year, per student from the state. There are no local funds transferred to the charter school. Thus, the “sending district” receives the benefit of the local funds, but with one less student to educate.

  • The federal government provides grants to Charter Schools for start-up costs. However, this does not include capital funds for facilities.

  • Charter School communities work very hard to raise funds through grants and donations to make up the difference in funding.

  • When a community provides an additional public option to mainstream public schools, learning is increased for all students. A Charter School often attracts educators who want to try new approaches in the classroom. When proven effective, these new approaches can be brought into the larger public school system.

  • Because Charter Schools tend to be smaller, it’s easy to make changes and try new techniques. As a result, there is more innovation in education. A Charter School can act as “research and development” arm of public education.

  • Teachers at most Charter Schools start at a lower salary than teachers at traditional public schools. The goal is that over the course of time, as funding becomes more available, the school is able to offer merit pay raises to its teachers.

  • There are 28 charter schools in New Hampshire and together these public schools serve approximately 2.5% of all public school pupils in New Hampshire.  Discover more details here about our state’s charter schools.

  • Parental and community involvement is key to the success of a Charter School. (See our Family Participation page to see how you can be involved at The Birches Academy.)