So for the past few months I have been exploring the 4 Charter Schools in our area. For those of you who don’t know, a Charter School is:
a tax-supported school established by a charter between a granting body (as a school board) and an outside group (as of teachers and parents) which operates the school without most local and state educational regulations so as to achieve set goals.-Merriam-Webster
In other words the school is a public school which is funded by tax dollars (however they do not receive the same amount per student that the public schools do). Anyone is eligible to attend and there is a public lottery if there are too many students interested in the spots available. Charter Schools are usually started by parents, teachers and community members with a specific theme or vision in mind (Arts-Integrated, Montessori, Project Based, Science and Technology etc.). They are held accountable to their Charter (which is usually under review every 3 years by the state) and students must take the same standardized tests as the public schools.
Of the four Charter Schools in our area, three started this year. They have spent their first year raising money, getting to know the curriculum, staff and students and ironing out the kinks . I read up on all four schools and talked to as many families who attended as I could. The families that we know who attend all like their schools but agree there have been many growing pains this first year.
Of the four Charter Schools in our area, one is 15 minutes from my house. The others are 30-40 minutes away (with no traffic). Initially I was fine with traveling if the school was great but then I thought long and hard about the lifestyle we would lead with this type of daily commute. Our day would begin very early, my son Wally would spend at least an hour in the car each day and it would be very difficult to get back for any town after school activities. My daughter Eva would not be able to go to the Montessori my son goes to now (out-of-the-way) and so we would have to change schools for her. She would spend over 2 hours in the car each day, would be late for the new school each morning and would have a very short time in the afternoon to be home before having to get back in the car to pick up her brother. And what about me? Well I’d be in the car for over 2 hours a day, rushing to get from school to school, stressed if there was traffic or bad weather and have to spend 2 hours around Eva’s new preschool because it would make no sense for me to go home.
I discussed all of this with my husband and although we liked the missions of those 3 Charter Schools, this was not the life we wanted for our family. We decided to look at the Charter School closest to our home (I have a tour in a few weeks) and will most likely enter the lottery. In the meantime we are making our plans for Homeschooling. As a family we are very excited about Homeschooling and even if our name gets pulled in the lottery for the Charter, I am not sure we will send our son. But I guess that is a whole other post in the making 🙂