Charter Schools in Wisconsin


Important Dates and Information



2015-16 Charter Schools Grant Information:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is applying to the U.S. Department of Education in 2015 for a new charter school grant as we are in the final year of our current grant award.  This is a competitive grant process among the state education agencies and there is no guarantee Wisconsin will receive another five-year grant.  The DPI will not conduct another grant competition in Wisconsin during the spring of 2015.   If Wisconsin does receive another federal grant, a notice will be sent to all charter schools, schools districts and independent authorizers immediately clarifying future application timelines and grant amounts.

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FAQ on Grant Funds used for Conferences

Charter School Grantees and Grant Applicants:  please review the attached guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.  It includes important information in the form of an FAQ on how the federal charter school grant funds may be used for meetings and conferences.  Please note the specific questions related to food, room costs and entertainment.  This information should guide your current and future charter school grant budgeting decisions.  If you have questions, please contact Margaret McMurray, Charter Schools Consultant, at 608/266-5728 or .  


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School Fees - DPI Information Sheet

This information sheet is designed to explain what the limits are and answer the most common questions that arise in the area of fees that can or cannot be charged by the School Districts.

The Wisconsin Constitution, Art X, Sec. 3 states:

"The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools ... such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years...";


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Online Learning: A Guide for Schools

This document provides guidance for districts and schools on virtual/blended programming as well as establishing virtual charter schools. Sections include an overview of online learning scenarios, legislation, information for parents, and frequently asked questions.

What is a Charter School

Charter schools are public, nonsectarian schools created through a businesslike contract or "charter" between the charter governance board and the sponsoring school board or other chartering authority. The Wisconsin charter school law gives charter schools freedom from most state rules and regulations in exchange for greater accountability for results. The charter defines the missions and methods of the charter school. The chartering authority holds the school accountable to its charter. The charter school motto is "Autonomy for Accountability."

Wisconsin established charter schools to foster an environment for innovation and parental choice. They can exist as living laboratories that influence the larger public school system and introduce an element of competition within that system. Charter schools are created with the best elements of regular public schools in mind. Their leaders may experiment with different instructional theories, site-based management techniques, and other innovations. They learn, sometimes by trial and error, what works best for their student population. Regular schools can observe and learn from what happens in the charter school and make similar improvements. Through this process, the entire public school system is continually challenged to improve itself.

Wisconsin also wants each charter school to meet the special needs and interests of its community, parents, and students. This is what makes each charter school unique. While many goals for educating and preparing children are similar, each charter school fulfills a specific local need in education. Some charter schools offer a choice to parents and students in the area of curriculum, teaching methodology, and classroom structure. Others work to keep that small population of at-risk students from falling through the cracks, offering counseling, personal attention, and support. In districts with charter schools, the community, school boards, and parents have identified their public education needs and have established charters that meet them.

For more information on charter schools in Wisconsin see: Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau Information Paper on Charter Schools, January 2011

What is a 2R Charter School?

2R charter schools are the same as regular charter schools except that their authorizers are one of the following:

  • The common council of the city of Milwaukee
  • The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
  • The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin - Parkside
  • The Milwaukee area technical college district board

All 2R charter schools are considered non-instrumentality schools since the above authorizes the governing board of the charter school to perform specified duties for the board of regents with respect to the instructional staff. This authorization may include duties related to supervising the instructional staff, taking disciplinary actions with respect to the instructional staff, recommending new hires or layoffs, collective bargaining, claims, complaints, or benefits and records administration.

For more indepth information on 2R charter schools see: Wisconsin Legislature Chapter 118.40 quick reference or Wis. Stats. Chapter 118.40(2r).

What is a Virtual Charter School?

“Virtual charter school” means a charter school under contract with a school board under s. 118.40 in which all or a portion of the instruction is provided through means of the Internet, and the pupils enrolled in and instructional staff employed by the school are geographically remote from each other.

Virtual charter schools are publicly funded, nonsectarian schools that are exempt from many regulations that apply to traditional public schools and that offer some of their classes online. They began operating in Wisconsin during the 2002-03 school year. Pupils typically attend from their homes and communicate with teachers using e-mail, by telephone, or in online discussions. 


Contact: For questions about the contents of this page contact:
Margaret McMurray, Charter Schools, 1-888-245-2732, ext. #5 (toll free)




For questions about this information, contact Scott Eagleburger (608) 266-5880, Jackie Abel (608) 266-2819
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