LC-E - Charter School Application

File:  LC-E




Any person, group or organization may submit an application for the formation of a charter school.  Applicants must follow state law and School Board policy regarding charter schools.  Applications must be received by the DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT [1] on or before JANUARY 1ST [2] prior to the year in which the charter school desires to open.  An original plus TEN [3] copies of the application must be submitted.  An application fee of $500.00 [4] shall be submitted with the application.  Applicants must follow the application format provided below.


Information Required by Virginia Law to be in the Application


I.       Mission Statement

            Describe the mission of the proposed charter school, including any specific area of concentration (i.e. math and science, technology or the arts).  This statement should include the core philosophy or purpose of the school as well as the target student population, including whether the school intends to increase the opportunities of educationally at risk students.[5]  As required by law, the mission must be consistent with the Standards of Quality, the Standards of Accreditation and Standards of Learning.


II.      Goals and Educational Objectives

            Describe the goals and educational objectives of the proposed charter school.  This section should include broad student achievement goals.  The objectives should be expressed as a concrete, measurable statement of what students should know and be able to do at various levels of education and identify practices that will improve teaching and enhance learning.  As required by law, the objectives and goals must meet or exceed the Standards of Learning.


III.     Evidence of Support

Provide tangible evidence of support for the of the charter school from an adequate number of parents, teachers, pupils, residents of the school division, or any combination thereof.[6]


IV.     Statement of Need

            Describe the need for the charter school and how that need was determined.


V.      Description of the Education, Pupil Performance Standards, and Curriculum

            Describe the curriculum and the methods of instruction, including teaching materials and any innovative techniques to be used.  List the pupil performance standards and how they were established.  This section should also provide the school calendar.  As required by law, the elements in this section must meet or exceed applicable Standards of Quality, the Standards of Accreditation and Standards of Learning. 


VI.     Pupil Evaluation: Assessments, Timeline and Corrective Action

            Describe the plan for evaluating student performance, including any assessments to be used to measure pupil progress towards achievement of the school’s pupil performance standards, in addition to the Standards of Learning assessments prescribed by Va. Code § 22.1-253.13:3.[7]   Include a timeline for the achievement of the stated standards and goals and a procedure for corrective action if student performance falls below the stated standards and goals.  This section should demonstrate how the charter school will be accountable to the School Board, parents, the community and the state.


VII.    Admissions Process

            Describe the student admission policy including the lottery (random) process to be used if there are more applicants than spaces available.  If applicable, the admission policy may be tailored to meet the specific mission and goals of the charter school. Any admission process must be consistent with federal and state laws, regulations and constitutions regarding discrimination and any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect in the school division.[8]  This section should include a timeframe for registering and admitting students, and how the school will seek a cross section of the community’s children, including at-risk students.


            Describe how transfers of students between charter schools and non-charter schools will be accomplished and how students enrolled after the start of the school year will be accommodated.


VIII.   Financial Plan:  Evidence of Economical Soundness, Proposed Budget and Annual Audit

            Provide a budget and any other information that illustrates the proposed charter school is economically sound for both the charter school and the school division.[9]  Include detailed sources of revenue and expenditures for the proposed term of the charter (at most five years) and a description of the manner in which an annual audit of the financial and administrative operations of the charter school, including any services provided by the school division, will be conducted.[10]  Anticipated gifts, grants or donations and a student fee schedule should be included.[11]


IX.     Displacement Plan:  Pupils and Employees

            Describe the displacement plan for students and employees who will not attend or be employed in the charter school, in instances of the conversion of an existing public school to a public charter school, and for the placement of students and employees upon termination or revocation of the charter.  This section should also include a plan for the placement of students and employees if the charter school facility is destroyed (e.g. by flood or fire), unable to be occupied or dissolved for any reason.


X.      Management and Operation

            Describe the management and operation of the charter school, including the nature and extent of parental, professional educator and community involvement.  List the names and addresses of the proposed management committee.[12]  This section should include (1) a detailed description of the relationship between the management committee and the local school board, including the charter school spokesperson (i.e. who is accountable to the school board); (2) how the charter school will be accountable to the public, including a plan for compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Public Records Act, and reporting requirements; (3) how the management committee is selected and its relationship to the teachers and administrators; (4) a description of the rules and procedures followed to arrive at policy and operational decisions; and (5) summaries of the job descriptions of key personnel, including the school leader/principal. 


XI.     Employee Relations

            Explain the relationship that will exist between the charter school and its employees, including evidence that the terms and conditions of employment have been addressed with affected employees.[13]


XII.    Legal Liability and Insurance Coverage

            Describe the arrangement between the charter school and the School Board regarding their respective legal liability and applicable insurance coverage.[14]  Insurance coverage should include health, property and casualty (automobile liability, general liability, property, officer and employee liability) and workers’ compensation.


XIII.   Transportation

            Describe the plan for transporting students to and from school, including arrangements made with the School Board, private providers or parents.


XIV.   Assurances

            Assure that the charter school is non-sectarian and will not charge tuition by including a statement to that effect.


XV.    Residential School for At-risk Students

Describe: (1) the residential program, facilities and staffing; (2) any parental education and after-care initiatives; (3) the funding sources for the residential and other services provided and (4) any counseling or other social services to be provided and their coordination with any current state or local initiatives.



Describe the means by which the applicant, members of the management committee, administrators, and other personnel serving in the proposed public charter school will disclose any ownership or financial interest they may have in renovating, lending, granting, or leasing public charter school facilities and the means by which the members of the management committee, administrators, and other personnel of the public charter school will meet their continuing duty to disclose such interests during the term of any charter.


Provisions Required by Law[15]


XVII. Waivers[16]

            Describe and justify any waiver from School Board policies and state regulations that the charter school requests.  The Standards of Quality, and by reference the Standards of Accreditation and Standards of Learning, may not be waived.  Please note that state law only allows waivers of policy and regulation; no waiver of state statutes or federal statutes or regulations is permitted.


XVIII.          Discrimination

            Assure that the charter school will follow state and federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, ancestry, or the need for special education services and shall be subject to any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect in the school division.


XIX.         Results of Review by Department of Education


Provide a copy of any review of the proposed charter application by the Virginia Board of Education.


Provisions Not Required by Law


XX. Applicant Information

            List the name, address, phone number and qualifications of the applicant(s) and designate an applicant contact person.


XXI.   Facility

            Describe the facility(ies) to be used for the charter school or the plan for the acquisition of a facility.  If the facility is not property of the school division, then the following must be provided: (1) a certificate of occupancy; (2) a health inspection certificate; (3) an annual fire certificate of inspection; (4) proof of compliance with federal, state and local health and safety laws and regulations; and (5) a copy of the lease or contract under which the charter school will use the facility.  If the facility is property of the school division, then describe plans, if any, for alteration or renovation.[17]


XXII. Health and Safety

Describe the procedures the charter school will implement to ensure the health and safety of the students and employees, including how and if the management committee will conduct a state criminal record check on all employees; how the charter school will conduct fingerprinting and federal criminal record checks, if applicable; how the charter school will comply with the requirement to report child abuse; and how the charter school will comply with Occupational Safety & Health Act requirements.


XXIII.          Indemnity

            Assure that the School Board will be defended, held harmless and indemnified against any claim, action, loss, damage, injury, liability, cost or expense of any kind as a result of the operation of the charter school or actions by its agents, employees, invitees or contractors.


XXIV.          Services

            List the services and their estimated costs that the applicant wishes the School Board to provide; for example, food service, payroll or conducting criminal background checks.[18] Also, list services and their estimated costs that will be provided by others.


XXV. Timeline

            Provide a detailed timeline, identifying each step required to establish the charter school, including, but not limited to, staff hiring, location and purchase of materials, implementing the evaluation plan, obtaining necessary services, opening an appropriate facility and consulting with experts, if necessary.  Please remember that, as with establishing Regional Vocational and Governor’s Schools, it will take at least 8-12 months to implement the proposal.


XXVI.          Renewal

            Assure that if the charter school wants to renew its contract, it shall apply at least six months prior to the expiration of the contract.



XXVII. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

            Describe the means by which the charter school will comply with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001


[1] Designate one person, the “review team” chairman, to receive applications and serve as the contact person with applicants to answer questions.

[2] Set a deadline for receiving applications.  Because Virginia law is silent as to the timing of applications, any reasonable deadline is permissible.  Choose a timeframe, 8-12 months prior to the opening of a charter school that gives your review team enough time to thoroughly evaluate the application and make recommendations to the School Board.

[3] The applicant should provide enough copies of the application for each stage of review.

[4] Virginia law does not explicitly permit or prohibit an application fee.  A reasonable fee to cover expenses associated with the application process may be desirable.

[5] A School Board needs to know whether the applicant intends to increase the educational opportunities of at-risk students because the law requires priority for these applications.                                               

[6] Some tangible evidence such as a petition, signed letters of support, surveys or perhaps minutes of a charter school organizational meeting should be included in the application.

[7] Although not specifically required by law to be in the application, for secondary charter schools a School Board should require a description of the method for determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation and how the transfer of credits between schools will be accomplished.

[8] Many states give admission preferences to students residing in the attendance area where the proposed charter school will be established or to siblings of students admitted to the charter school.  Virginia law merely states that enrollment shall be open to any child deemed to reside in the school division through a lottery process based on availability.  Other than the fact that charter schools may develop an admission policy tailored to meet the mission of the school, Virginia law is silent on the issue of admission preferences.

[9] See review criteria related to the Financial Plan.

[10] This section should include the manner in which the school division can ensure fiscal and administrative compliance with the charter.

[11] Although a charter school may not charge tuition, student fees may be assessed in accordance with Board of Education Regulations, 8VAC20-370-10.  See also Superintendent’s Memo No. 95 (May 13, 1994).

[12] Only parents of students in the charter school, teachers and administrators working in the charter school or representatives of any community sponsor may be members of the management committee.

[13] The School Board must decide what constitutes evidence that the terms and conditions of employment have been addressed.  A signed employee handbook or personnel policy could be sufficient evidence.

[14] Although not required by law, it may be prudent to have the charter school agree to indemnify the School Board.  See section XXIII below.  Also, the school board may wish to ask for evidence of insurability or as a condition of final approval, copies of purchased insurance plans or, the School Board may carry charter school insurance under its existing policies.               

[15] Virginia law does not require these provisions to be in the application, however, they are legal requirements imposed on charter schools.  Therefore, VSBA recommends including these provisions in the application.

[16] Although not required by law to be in the charter application, waivers must be included in the charter contract.  Moreover, the School Board is required to request, on behalf of the charter school, the releases from state regulation.  For these two reasons, it is wise to include the waivers in the application.

[17] The School Board may not charge rent for available school division facilities.

[18] Any services provided by the School Board must be at cost.  However, service agreements between the School Board and a charter school shall not be a financial incentive or disincentive to the establishment of a charter school.