Frequently Asked Questions about Charter Schools

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a tuition-free public school created on the basis of a contract or 'charter' between the school and a local school board or other authorizer. Charter schools are accountable for both academic results and fiscal practices to several groups: the sponsor that grants them (SASD Board of Education), the parents who choose them, and the public that funds them.

More specifically, a charter school:
  • Is governed by the articles in its charter, and can be exempt from statutes and rules relating to schools, governing boards and school districts
  • Provides a program of elementary or secondary education or both
  • Is non-sectarian, not affiliated with a religious school in any form
  • Does not charge tuition
  • Complies with federal laws related to special education and discrimination
  • Admits students on the basis of a lottery if more apply than can be served
  • Complies with state and federal audit requirements
  • Meets all local, state and federal health and safety requirements

Can any child attend a charter school?
Yes. Attendance at a charter school is voluntary and open to any child. Some charter schools are at capacity and have waiting lists; in these situations a random selection process is used to assign enrollment seats. Students living outside the Sheboygan Area School District boundaries are welcome to apply through the Wisconsin Public School Open Enrollment program.

Do charter schools compete with public schools?
No. Charter schools are public schools and offer choice within the Sheboygan Area School District.

How are charter schools held academically accountable?

Public charter schools are required to meet all state education standards.  In addition, they are judged on how well they meet student achievement goals established by their charter contracts. Charter schools are required to participate in the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) annually.

Are charter schools only for at-risk students?
No. Any student can attend a charter school. A particular charter school may focus on the needs of at risk-students, so a parent may want to choose that school for their child if he or she is at-risk.  Each charter school has a different philosophical or curricular focus to provide choices within a public school district. Neighborhood schools serve at-risk students as well.

Are charter schools open to students with special needs or to English language learner (ELL) students?
Yes. Any student may attend a charter school. The district is required to provide special education services for all students by federal law.  Charter Schools that share a building with a neighborhood school share ELL services offered by the district.  If a charter school wants to provide additional services, the school pays for them through their own budget.

How is transportation provided to charter schools or choice schools?
District-funded transportation is not provided when a student chooses a school through the School Choice program. Students enroll in a charter school through the school choice process. Contact each school for specific information about transportation options.

How Are public charter schools funded?
When a student transfers from a neighborhood school to a charter school, the funding associated with that student will follow him or her to the charter school.  Charter schools do not add any new costs to the district’s public education system.  They simply represent a reallocation of resources from one school to another based upon the decisions of families across the district. The Sheboygan Area School District is not taking money away from neighborhood schools to fund charter schools.

For more information about charter schools, visit these websites: