According to a report created by the Leon County School Board, the number of students enrolled in charter schools in Leon County increased from 1,654 in 2018-19 to 2,183 in 2020-21, a 32% increase.
The 2,183 represents approximately 6.6 % of the total Leon County students financed by the public school system, which is 32,845.
A charter school is a public school of choice that is developed by a private, nonprofit, group using public funds to serve public school students in a given community. Charter schools are guided by a governing board and operate under a contract (or charter) with the district school board, in which the charter school is located. District staff provides support and monitors compliance.
Charter schools may be started by an individual or group of parents, community leaders, teachers, businesses, municipalities, community colleges, or other legal entities organized under the laws of the state.
The report identifies five charter schools operating in Leon County. They are the School of Arts & Sciences- Thomasville Rd., School of Arts & Sciences – The Centre, Tallahassee Classical, Tallahassee School of Math & Science, and the Governors Charter Academy.
The report notes that funding provided to these charter schools in 2020-21 totaled $15,944,962 and the Charter School Capital Outlay provided to the schools totaled $976,694.
The administrative fees related to the charter schools collected by the Leon County School District totaled $330,041.
Charter schools are financed in the same manner as traditional public schools. Charter schools receive a per student share of the state and federal funding as well as capital outlay funds to assist them with the operation of their facility.
School districts may charge an administrative fee of up to 5% for up to and including 250 students or 2% for up to and including 250 students if the school is deemed High-Performing.
While largely free to innovate in program design and delivery, Florida charter schools are required to:
- Be nonsectarian in its policies, practices and operations.
- Not charge tuition or attending fees.
- Be accountable to its sponsor for its academic and financial performance.
- Comply with requirements pertaining to: the provision of services to students with disabilities; civil rights; and student health, safety and welfare.
- Comply with requirements governing public records and public meetings.
- Maintain all financial records that constitute its accounting system in accordance with current law.
- Annually conduct a financial audit.
- Fully participate in Florida’s education accountability program.