Charter schools are NOT private schools.
American Academy, like ALL other charter schools, is a public school. That means, like all other public schools, we are funded by the state and our enrollment is open to all students, though we have a limited number of seats. However, we have special permission through a charter agreement with Douglas County School District (our authorizer) to operate differently than traditional public schools and in some important ways, separately from the district.
Autonomy with Responsibility
But with that autonomy also comes increased responsibility
to tax payers! Charter schools are held highly accountable for all that we do. We must meet or exceed state academic standards and we must demonstrate fiscal transparency
and responsibility by posting our budgets and financial records. We work closely with the school district to maintain a positive relationship and to stay connected to relevant information and changes. And every five years, each charter school must undergo a review by the charter authorizer to evaluate the school's academic success, operational stability, and responsible business practices.
There's a financial price for our autonomy as well. In total, American Academy operates with approximately 85% of the per pupil revenue (PPR) given to all public schools in our district since we are required to also build and pay for our own school buildings out of the same money other public schools may devote exclusively to educating their students. That's not a complaint, it's simply a fact. And charter schools are proud to say we know how to get more done with less!
Some other facts about American Academy as a charter school:
- We do not charge tuition! American Academy K-8 students attend school tuition-FREE.
- We do not discriminate in our enrollment practices. We use a random lottery and have a strict Enrollment Policy that governs enrollment priorities and procedures.
- There are no test-in requirements to attend American Academy.
- We are funded by the state with per pupil revenue (PPR), just like traditional district-run schools, though we operate with a smaller percentage of PPR than the school district (due to finding our own buildings).
- Our students must take state tests, and our school must meet state expectations (we strive to exceed, of course!).
- We follow all applicable state and federal public school laws including Colorado’s READ Act, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
- We serve a broad range of students, including low-income students, racial and ethnic students of color, English Language Learners, and students with mild-to-moderate disabilities or special needs.
- We are allowed to apply for waivers through our authorizer (DCSD) for certain state laws and district policies that do not work with a charter school business model, mostly pertaining to employment practices (see American Academy Charter Agreement and Waivers).
- We are held to additional and an exceptionally high level of accountability for our school finances (audited every year), our test scores, and our management practices.
For more information and perspective on charter public schools in Douglas County and beyond: