West Virginia & Charter Schools
West Virginia’s charter schools have had a long and difficult road to approval. The state legislature passed the original law allowing the creation of this new kind of school in 2019. This law set a cap of 3 schools within the initial 3 years. In 2020 West Virginia Academy stepped forward as the state’s first applicant with a goal of opening in Fall 2021. West Virginia Academy will serve the Morgantown area.
Unions sued over the charter school law. Since then, West Virginia Academy has been fighting back in the courts for the ability to open their school. West Virginia Academy is currently awaiting a decision from the West Virginia Supreme Court. If allowed to move forward, they expect to open in Fall 2022 and offer the state’s first middle years International Baccalaureate program.
During this year’s legislative session, policymakers expanded the charter school laws. The new law expanded the cap on brick and mortar charters from three every three years to ten every three years. It also allows for two statewide fully online charter schools and for fully online charters that serve individual counties. These schools have caps as to how many public school students they can service.
How Do Charters Work?
There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what charter schools are and how they work. A charter school is a fully public school, which means they cannot charge school tuition. They will be free to students and accessible to the public in much the same way a traditional district school is.
In addition, according the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “The charter school model empowers teachers to provide innovative, high-quality instruction. [It] gives them the autonomy to design a classroom that fits their students’ needs. Charter schools are led by dynamic principals who have the flexibility to create a school culture that fosters student performance and parent satisfaction. [They] are held accountable to the performance standards they agree to in their charter and by their communities.”
There are 7500 charter schools across 44 states and Washington, D.C. This number continues to grow as communities start new schools that are tailored to fit their needs.
Learn More About Charter Schools
Finally, if you want to learn more about charter schools, how they work, and what it takes to start one, you can explore https://www.publiccharters.org/.
If you’re a parent trying to decide the best school for your child, check out https://schoolchoiceweek.com/. They have lots of resources focused on helping parents pick a school their child will love.
Amanda Kieffer is the Communications Director for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.