What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools open to all students regardless of zip code, race/ethnicity, or ability level. 

In New Jersey, a “charter” is defined as a contract with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) detailing the school’s mission, program, performance goals, and methods of assessments. 

Charter schools run on four- to five-year performance contracts that focus on student outcomes. In exchange for increased accountability to the NJDOE and high financial, academic, and managerial standards, charter schools have more flexibility and autonomy than traditional public district schools, which allows for the use of innovative teaching methods to meet the needs of all students.

All charter schools in New Jersey are non-profit organizations governed by an independent board of trustees. The vast majority of funding for charter schools comes from federal, state, and local tax dollars, and, as with all public schools, charter schools fundraise from a variety of sources, such as families at the school, local businesses, and foundations.

Charter schools receive annual audits conducted by the NJDOE and an independent fiscal auditor based on the Performance Framework. If a charter school fails to provide a quality education to students, they are forced to close. 

The NJDOE serves as the sole authorizer and oversees all public charter schools in the state.

Commonly Asked Charter School Questions