Charter School FAQs

The Power of Charter Schools and importance of School Choice.

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These are the most common questions people ask us:img_0139-version-2

What Is a Charter School?

A charter school is a tuition-free, public school, funded by tax payers. It is NOT a private school, but in some ways it operates like one. A charter school is usually a non-profit, self-managed organization lead by a staff and board of trustees.

There are charter schools created by colleges, private citizens, parents and companies. These founders design the charter document, an educational plan that is innovative and distinct to the area, and meets the state’s application process. The charter is a contract that is effective for five years. Charter laws vary from state to state, but they all ensure freedom from many state education laws except in the areas of non-discrimination, safety and health, and accountability. All charter students take state standardized tests, such as the Keystone Exams, and formerly the PSSAs.

There are many benefits:

  1. Offers communities school choice.

  2. Not everyone can afford a private or home education, but everyone can afford a public charter school.

  3. Allows for more voices.

  4. Introduces and uses innovative teaching methods and fiscal responsibility.

  5. Creates new professional opportunities for teachers.

  6. Increases learning opportunities for all: children, teachers, parents and community.

  7. Promotes community growth by attracting families and businesses.

  8. Saves the state money.

Will it raise my taxes?

A few years ago, Tim Allwein of the Pennsylvania School Board Administration stated, “There may be some impact on the community, but it would take a huge charter school or many small ones to have to raise taxes.”

The real question to ask is: Why would taxes need to be raised?

School boards do not lose money because of charter schools. In fact, public school districts send to a charter school approximately 70% of what they spend on a non-charter school student. On average, the saving is 30% for each student attending a charter school.

IMG_0196What is this charter school like?

Gillingham is the only school in the county offering a Relational Education framework based on the ideas of Charlotte Mason. She believed that the child is a whole person, who needs life-giving relationships with self, others, nature, and ideas. Gillingham innovates by combining the tools of Atmosphere, Habits and Living Ideas for ALL students.

These three tools consist of relational methods that are considered “best practices” in education: small schools, small classes, limited homework, short classes, narrative report cards, whole books, open ended exams, k-12 foreign language immersion, weekly nature walks, and a broad curriculum.

Gillingham opened in the Fall of 2011 with K-9th grades. 10th grade was added in Fall 2012. 11th grade was added in Fall 2013 and 12th grade in Fall 2014.

What Does the Education Law Center Say About Charter Schools?

Learn more at the Education Law Center’s website.

How do I get involved?

ENROLL your child. Enrollment is currently taking place. You will need a copy of each child’s birth certificate and proof of residence (i.e. mortgage statement, lease, utility bill).