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2019 Guide to Arizona Public Charter Schools

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Are you looking at school options for your child in Arizona?

We have put together this guide to help you understand what public charter schools are and how your child (or children) could attend.  Tuition-free public charter schools provide unique learning approaches that are an excellent fit for many children. We want to make the enrollment process as simple as possible by providing accurate information for parent’s most frequently asked questions.

This guide will provide answers to questions like, “What is a tuition-free public school?”,  “What tuition-free public school options are available in Arizona?” and “How do I enroll my student in charter school?”

If you are looking for answers to questions like these, read on!

What is a tuition-free public charter school in Arizona?

AZCharters.org offers this definition of tuition-free public charter schools in Arizona,

Charter schools are public schools that are innovative while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. Charter schools are funded by the state and free to all Arizona students. They vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students.

With 547 public charter schools serving over 180,000 students, charters play an integral role in shaping the lives of Arizona’s youth.

What tuition-free public charter schools are available for students living in Arizona?

For almost all children, if they live in Arizona, they have a public charter school available for them to attend. That being said, ideally, you will be able to find a great public charter school close to home.  

If you live in the Chandler, AZ area we would love for you to come by and check out AZ Compass Prep if your child is in 7 – 12 grades. If your child is in grades K – 6 Vector Prep and Arts Academy is a great option as well (both schools are located on the same campus).

If you live elsewhere in Arizona, you can see all of the schools we offer on the following webpage .https://www.skylineschools.com/schools/

The Arizona Department of Education also provides a charter school finder on their website for you to search for additional charter school options.

Are public charter schools free in Arizona? Is there tuition?

Tuition-free public charter schools are free in Arizona to eligible students.

Can anyone go to a public charter school in Arizona?

Arizona’s public charter schools are required by law to accept all students and they must enroll and provide educational services to special education and English Learner students. A.R.S §15-184

What other counties and locations in Arizona are served by tuition-free public charter schools in Arizona?

According to the Arizona Charter School Association, no matter where you live in Arizona, students have access to public charter schools.

How do I enroll my child in a tuition-free public charter school?

The enrollment process varies across schools, but we offer the following admissions checklist to help guide you through the enrollment process:

  • • Birth Certificate or other reliable proof of the student’s age and identity, such as a baptismal certificate, an application for a social security number or original school registration records and an affidavit explaining the inability to provide a copy of the birth certificate.
  • • Residency Form with Required Documents
  • • Immunization Records
  • • IEP if applicable (must be reviewed through the SpEd Department before enrollment). IEP information is used for placement and continuity of services, not as a determinate of enrollment
  • • Withdrawal Form (required before a student can start) from last school attended
  • • Notarized Legal Documentation of custody or placement if Guardian, Foster, or Group Home Parent
  • • Tribal Enrollment Documentation (if applicable)

You can get started enrolling with any of our Skyline schools by visiting our admissions web page.

What are the requirements for acceptance into a charter school in Arizona?

By law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. Charter schools accept all students who want to attend. If there are more students who want to attend than there are seats available, a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system.

Are public charter schools high quality? Do public charter schools need to meet state standards?

The answer to both of these questions is yes!  From AZCharters.org,

Charter Students Boasted Larger NAEP Gains than Any State

NAEP results show significant gains over the last eight years, with public charter students outperforming their district and private school peers in every grade level and on every subject tested. This trend is most evident in the scores for eighth-grade reading and math. When separated and measured as if they were their own state, Arizona charter students rank first in the nation in eighth-grade math, and second for eighth-grade reading.

And more from AZCharters.org,

The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools was created through legislation in 1994 to grant charter status to qualifying applicants and to oversee public charter schools. Charter schools are public, state-funded schools that operate under a charter contract with a charter school sponsor or authorizer. The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools oversees more than 500 public charter schools throughout the state making it the largest authorizer in Arizona. Below are some facts about public charter school oversight.

Public Charter Schools…

  • • must operate according to state and federal law and can be closed by the state for failing to meet student academic, operational or financial expectations. A.R.S. §15-183 (E)(R)
  • • must be governed by a local school board that makes financial, operational and academic decisions for the school. A.R.S. §15-183 (E)(8)
  • • must teach state standards and administer state assessments. A.R.S. §15-741
  • • must hold open meetings to approve budgets, expenditures for contracts and services. A.R.S. §15-183(E)(6) A.R.S. §15-905(B), (D), and (E) ; More Info
  • • must post their annual budget on their webpage and submit to the Arizona Department of Education. A.R.S. §15-183(E)
  • • must have an independent, publicly available financial audit annually. A.R.S. §15-183 (E)(6) – Annual Audits
  • • must disclose related party transactions. A.R.S. §15-914 and Government Auditing Standards
  • • operating as nonprofits, must file with the IRS and disclose conflict of interest and related-party transactions. Guidelines
  • • must conform to a uniform system of financial records as required by state and federal laws and generally accepted accounting principles. Auditor USFRCS

What is the difference between public schools and charter schools in Arizona?

Tuition-free public charter schools in Arizona are public schools, but they have more flexibility in choosing their mission and model of education.

For instance, the mission of our school, AZ Compass Prep, is:

AZ Compass School is a unique concept school focused on academics, arts, and athletics designed to provide excellence and responsive education services to at-risk students and families who are seeking a successful pre-professional career preparation experience without sacrificing post-secondary education opportunities.

But other public charter schools will have different missions and approaches.  A great aspect of charter schools is that you can find the mission and values that work best for your child.  

We hope this guide was useful in answering some of the basic questions related to public charter schools in Arizona. If you are interested in learning more about public charter schools for your child, please feel free to contact us.

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