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Starting a Charter School
Who may apply for a charter?
Any parent, teacher, group, or entity may apply for a charter as developers. They must apply to LARA and have a non-profit status.
What steps are needed to start a charter school?
A charter school must be chartered by the governing board of a public body that is authorized to issue charter contracts pursuant to Michigan law. In Michigan, an “authorizing body” means any of the following, pursuant to MCL 380.501(1):
- State Public University
- Community College
- K-12 Local Education Agency (Traditional School District)
- Intermediate School District (ISD)
- Two or more of these public agencies exercising power, privilege, or authority jointly pursuant to an interlocal agreement
However, not all potential authorizers take advantage of the opportunity to issue charters. The list of authorizers of current authorizers is located at the MDE PSA unit website under the Maps and Lists of Public School Academies’ heading.
The fact that not all eligible entities choose to authorize does not preclude charter school developers from requesting consideration from any potential authorizer. At one time, a cap was imposed on the number of charter schools that state public universities could authorize. This cap expired on December 31, 2014. The only remaining caps on establishing charter schools apply to cyber schools and their authorizers.
Interested developers should review and become familiar with all the materials on the MDE PSA website before embarking on the charter school development journey.
How are charter schools funded?
All charter schools are funded through the State School Aid Act [1979 PA 94, as amended, MCL 388.1606(6)(c)]. A charter school receives funding through the per-pupil base foundation. By law, this amount may not exceed the per-pupil base foundation received by the local school district where the charter school is geographically located [1979 PA 94, as amended, MCL 388.1620(6)].
Does a charter school qualify for state and federal grant funds in the same manner as a local school district?
Yes, a charter school may access state and federal grants in the same manner as local school districts [MCL 380.504a(f)]. Various factors apply to the eligibility of charter schools and school districts to apply for grants.
May private schools become charter schools?
Private schools may become charter schools only if they cease operating as a private entity, obtain a charter from a qualified authorizer, and re-open as a public school that meets all state law requirements.
May a charter school be religiously affiliated?
No. A charter school must maintain the separation of church and state. If a charter school is utilizing a building that has religious symbols present, they must be removed or covered [MCL 380.502(1)].