Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools of choice for parents and students. The first charter schools in the nation opened in Minnesota in 1992. Charter schools continue to be a popular choice for students seeking an alternative to traditional public schools. Currently there are 150 charter schools in operation in Minnesota serving more than 43,000 students.

Charter schools offer a unique educational program and students can expect quality education based on results. Charter schools employ licensed teachers, offer services to special needs students and require students to take state and national tests to assure academic accountability. They do not charge tuition, and there are no admission requirements to enroll students in charter schools. New charter schools with exciting programs open their doors to students every year in Minnesota. Parents may contact charter schools directly to find out about the type of programs they offer and their enrollment options.

High-Quality Charter Schools Eligible to Apply for Replication/Significant Expansion Grants
MDE intends to award federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) Planning/Implementation grants to existing high-quality charter schools that wish to significantly expand or replicate the charter school beyond plans approved in the school’s original affidavit and charter. Grants are awarded for up to three years (one year of planning, first two years of operation) and range from $100,000-225,000 per year.

An interim definition of “high-quality” incorporates MCA proficiency and growth (and graduation rate for high schools) along with a demographic comparison. 24 charter schools have been designated as “high-quality” for 2014 based on the interim definition. Over the next few years, MDE will be working to develop a comprehensive performance framework that incorporates multiple indicators of success (including operational and financial performance indicators) that will replace the interim definition. Read the method and process for determining eligibility. View a list of the 24 eligible charter schools

Early Learning Program Guidance for Charter Schools and Authorizers
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is pleased to announce guidance for charter schools and authorizers who wish to seek official MDE recognition of their instructional programs for three- to five-year-olds. Upon official recognition by MDE, a charter school may be eligible to receive additional funding for these programs. Read Commissioner Brenda Cassellius’s announcement letter to charter schools and authorizers.

Additional guidance information is available for charter school directors and authorizers:

Commissioner-approved Charter School Authorizers
For a complete list of commissioner-approved charter school authorizers, including contact information and the schools they authorize, visit the MDE-ORG database.

Charter School Directory
For a complete list of charter schools in Minnesota, including contact information, visit the MDE-ORG database.
 

Authorizers

  • New Charter School Affidavit 
    Revised September 2013. Instructions and forms for approved authorizers to file an affidavit with the Minnesota Department of Education to start a new charter school. This document also includes instructions for official recognition of a new charter school’s prekindergarten or preschool instructional program.
  • Change in Authorizer 
    Revised December 2013. Instructions and forms for approved authorizers to file a change in authorizer request with the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • Affiliated Building Corporation Affidavit 
    Instructions and forms for approved authorizers to submit an affiliated building corporation affidavit to MDE.
  • Supplemental Affidavit 
    Revised September 2013. Instructions and forms for approved authorizers to file an affidavit with the Minnesota Department of Education to expand a charter school. This document also includes instructions for official recognition of a charter school’s prekindergarten or preschool instructional program.
  • 2014 Guidance on Authorizer Fees   pdf iconPDF 
    Revised September 2013
  • 2014 Charter Contract Guidance   pdf iconPDF 
    Revised July 2013. Guidance for approved authorizers in preparing and submitting a charter school contract to the Minnesota Department of Education for statutory review.
  • Charter School and Authorizer Oversight and Resolution Process - Revised July 2012 

Schools