What is a Public Charter School?

The concept of charter schools in the United States originated in the late 1980s as part of that era's public school reform movement. At the time, there were a few schools existed in the U.S. open to the public, but not part of the established public education system. These schools exhibited a level of legal and financial autonomy which allowed them to make decisions outside the influence of public education regulations and bureaucracy.

As the charter school movement grew in the early 1990s, states began to pass laws which defined what charter schools are and how they must operate to qualify for public money. To qualify for these funds, charters

    ⁃    must have an unbiased admissions process.
    ⁃    cannot charge student tuition.
    ⁃    must be free of any religious or other sectarian affiliation.
    ⁃    must adhere to certain state and federal standards.

Adhering to these rules qualifies charter schools to receive public education funds.

Charter School Autonomy

  Chartering process, authority
  Viewed as progressive, innovative
  Agile curriculum development
  Governing organization to oversee the principal


Admissions to charter schools must be decided through a random lottery selection process. Prospective students submit their names for the drawing which is typically conducted later in the school year for the year following. Those students selected in the lottery are then notified and given the right of refusal.

The number of students admitted is determined by a number of factors. The school's charting document sets a cap on total student enrollment. Other factors include  charters include

Charter schools are not subject to local public school zoning rules. Students, regardless of where they live in the larger community may apply for admission to a public charter school.

State Charter Schools Laws

Public building, funding in NM

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ATC is a public charter school serving students in grades 7 through
12  throughout Santa Fe.



2019-20 ATC Admissions Lottery