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Wisconsin-based Multiage Learning Network, educational resources for educators and schools
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...";
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?
The following excerpts are from 2007 Wisconsin Act 222:
- “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.
Beginning July 1, 2010, no person may teach an online course in a public school, including a charter school, unless he or she has completed at least 30 hours of professional development designed to prepare a teacher for online teaching.
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. During the 2010-11 school year, 17 virtual charter schools enrolled 4,110 pupils. Most were high schools. View the entire report, "An Evaluation of Virtual Charter Schools" at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/LAB/reports/10-3full.pdf issued by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. Currently for the 2011-12 school year there are 25 virtual charter schools.
For the 2011-12 school year the grant applications will include Information about Virtual Charter School Requirements to clarify the statutory requirements to operate a virtual charter school in Wisconsin.
Contact: For questions about the contents of this page contact:
Margaret McMurray, Charter Schools Consultant for CESAs 1,7, 8, 9 and 12, 1-888-245-2732, ext. #5 (toll free)
Valerie Schmitz, Charter Schools Consultant for CESAs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11, (608) 267-9111