Charter schools are public schools operating under a performance contract or “charter.” The charter allows the school to operate under defined rules and regulations. As part of the contract between the charter school and the sponsor (Polk County Public Schools), charter schools are held accountable for academic and financial results.
Purpose of a Charter School
Charter schools are independent public schools, which are fiscally and academically accountable to the sponsoring school system, but exempt from the district and most state statutes. The schools also have control over 95 percent of the student funds generated through student enrollment. This freedom is intended to allow charter schools to be more innovative, demonstrate better student performance, and make the local school the agent of change for the students the school serves.
Types of Charter Schools
Start-up charter schools: Start-up charter schools are educational institutions that did not exist prior to being granted charter school status. These schools are often started by parents, community members, business partners, etc. These schools may offer a specialized curriculum or serve a specific student population, such as at-risk students or special needs students.
Conversion charter schools: A conversion charter school is an existing public school that converts to charter school status. This process requires agreement from the teachers and parents of the charter school, the submission of a charter application that is subsequently approved by the sponsor, and the negotiation of a charter contract. Final approval of a charter contract is voted on by the School Board after a public hearing.
How to Submit a Charter School Application
Due to the district’s safety protocols, the charter applicant orientation will not be scheduled. Use the provided links to access the PowerPoint presentation and helpful resources to guide you through the process. Charter applicants may contact the Office of Charter Schools for additional assistance.
Charter applicants wishing to apply should submit a letter of intent to:
The School Board of Polk County
Office of Charter Schools
Attn: Candy Amato
on or before Friday, December 11, 2020. The letter of intent should include:
- School name
- Contact name, telephone, and email address for the application contact person
- School mission and vision
- The student population and grade levels
- Location of the proposed school
1915 S Floral Ave.,
Bartow, FL 33830
Submit a charter school application by Monday, February 1, 2021, no later than 4 pm to:
The School Board of Polk County
1915 S. Floral Avenue
Bartow, FL 33830
Charter applicants must ensure the following items are met before submitting their application:
Polk County Needs Assessment Letter
Each charter school applicant must include a Polk County Needs Assessment letter using the details below and include with the charter application.
Statement of Need
- Why is there a need for this type of charter school?
- Explain why the charter school model is an appropriate vehicle to address this need.
Explanation: Provide recognition of potential opportunities to improve service and expand choices for students and parents.
- Describe the community or region where the school will be located.
- Why was this location selected? Are there other locations suitable to the needs and focus of the school?
- Describe any unique demographic characteristics of the student population to be served, including primary languages spoken.
Explanation: Provide a description of the students to be served and the community in which the school will be located.
District Relations/Evidence of Support
- What efforts will be implemented to maintain a collaborative relationship with school districts?
- Convey the scope of community backing for the proposed charter school and its founding coalition.
Explanation: Document efforts to foster open communications with local school districts; evidence that the founders inspire the confidence of their targeted community; evidence that the program provides an attractive educational alternative to students and parents, and evidence that the breadth of community support extends beyond the core group of founders.
Amendments to Charter Applications
The Polk County School Board Charter Policy states that the District shall receive and consider applications received on or before February 1st of each calendar year. The application process and review can also be found in Charter Legislation FS 1002.33 (6).
With regards to the submission of revisions or amendments to the charter school applications submitted on or before February 1, 2021, the Model Florida Charter School Application clearly states the topics that must be addressed in the charter school application. In addition, an orientation packet was provided by the Office of Charter Schools to any applicant who requested information regarding the application process in Polk County. This packet also included the Florida Charter School Application Evaluation Instrument that clearly states how the application will be evaluated.
The charter review team may raise specific questions in its review process that clarify a particular point in the application. These specific questions and answers will be considered as part of the superintendent’s review and decision-making process. If the charter review team identifies sections of the application that are missing, inaccurate or incomplete; additional submittals to address these deficiencies will not be considered as part of the review process.
Thank you for your submittal to the Polk County School Board. The charter review team’s review process will be completed, and the team’s responses will be forwarded to you as part of the review process. A recommendation to the superintendent will be made at a work session within the 90-day period. You may attend that work session if you choose to do so, but there is no time set aside for charter school applicants to address the school board. However, the school board may elect to ask you questions during this presentation. Please feel free to contact the Office of Charter Schools if you have any questions or need further information.