Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a Charter School?
A. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that offer choice for parents and students and place the highest priority on providing a better quality education. Charter schools are funded much like a public school, but each charter school is governed privately by an independent board of directors.
Q. How are Charter Schools funded?
A. Each public school receives full-time equivalent (FTE) funding for each student from the State of Florida. The money comes from ad valorem taxes paid by the general public. The state has a formula for distributing the money back to each district based upon the total number of students enrolled and counted in October and February each year. The money follows the individual student and becomes the operating capital for each public school district and each charter school. The district serves as the oversight sponsor for the charter school and retains 2-5% of the total revenue for which the charter qualifies. Charter schools must be fiscally sound and act in a responsible business manner or potentially lose their charter.
Q. How can my child attend a Haven School?
A. Simply fill out an online application. You must complete a separate application for the Bay Haven campus and the North Bay Haven campus.
Q. Does my child become automatically enrolled?
A. Any child in Bay County regardless of race, creed, color, gender, income, or disability can apply to attend a Haven school. As long as space is available, the student application will be honored with enrollment. If the classes that are capped by the charter contract are full, then the charter school organization shall perform a public lottery to determine a hierarchy of enrollment opportunity in a fair and equitable manner. The lotteries at Bay Haven and North Bay Haven are audited by a local accounting firm for statutory compliance.
Q. Once my child is in one of the Haven Schools, is he/she guaranteed to stay in the school?
A. Yes, as long as you fulfill the criteria set forth in the school’s charter which is:
• Maintain the minimum standards for attendance.
• Maintain the minimum standards regarding the tardy and uniform policies.
• Maintain the appropriate standards for discipline.
• Maintain the requirements for the minimum number of 20 volunteer hours per family per year.
Note: Bay Haven and North Bay Haven 8th graders who wish to attend 9th grade at North Bay Haven must apply.
Q. How is the Haven organization designed?
A. The Board of Directors serve as unpaid volunteers with a fiduciary responsibility to oversee the approval of policies and the school budgets. The Chief Education Officer acts as a superintendent to lead the educational operations of the five schools and the Haven district office with exception of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the Compliance Officer. The CFO oversees the business operations of the school and is directly responsible to the Board. The Board has a 501(c)3 non-profit tax exempt status.
Q. How are charter schools created, organized, and operated?
A. Charter schools are created when:
• An individual, a group of parents or teachers, a business, a municipality, or a legal entity submits an application to the school district.
• The school district approves the application.
• The applicants form a governing board that negotiates a contract with the district school board.
• The applicants and district school board agree upon a charter or contract.
The district school board then becomes the sponsor of the charter school. The negotiated contract outlines expectations of both parties regarding the school's academic and financial performance. A charter school must be organized as, or be operated by, a nonprofit organization. The charter school may serve at-risk students, or offer a specialized curriculum or core academic program, provide early intervention programs, or serve exceptional education students.
Q. What specific statutory requirements apply to charter school operations?
A. A charter school is statutorily required to (s.1002.33(9),F.S.):
• Be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations.
• Be accountable to the school district for its performance.
• Not charge tuition or fees.
• Comply with all applicable state and local health, safety, and civil rights requirements.
• Not discriminate based on race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status.
• Subject itself to and pay for an annual financial audit.
• Maintain financial records that constitute its accounting system in accordance with the law.
• Annually adopt and maintain an operating budget.
• Fully participate in the state’s education accountability program.
Q. Are there parental involvement requirements for charter schools?
A. Every charter school's governing board is required to appoint a representative to facilitate parental involvement, provide access to information, assist parents and others with questions and concerns, and resolve disputes. The representative must reside in the school district. The representative may be a governing board member, employee, or individual contracted to represent the governing board. Contact information for the representative must be provided in writing to parents each year, and must be posted prominently on the charter school's web site if a web site is maintained by the charter school. Also, each charter school's governing board must hold at least two public meetings per school year in the school district. The meetings must be noticed, open, and accessible to the public. Attendees must be provided an opportunity to offer input regarding the school’s operations and receive information about the school. The representative appointed by the governing board must be physically present at the two required meetings.
Q. Are charter schools exempt from state statutes?
A. Charter schools are generally exempt from the Florida K-20 Education Code (Ch. 1000-1013, F.S.), except those statutes that:
• Specifically apply to charter schools.
• Pertain to the student assessment program and school grading system.
• Pertain to the provision of services to students with disabilities.
• Pertain to civil rights, student health, safety, and welfare.
• Relate to maximum class size, except the calculation for compliance shall be the average at the school level.
Charter schools must also comply with any statute governing public records, public meetings and records, public inspection, and penalties (Ch. 119, F.S.). In addition, charter schools must use facilities that comply with the Florida Building Code (Ch. 553, F.S.) and Florida Fire Prevention Code (s. 633.025, F.S.), but are exempt from compliance with the State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF). A local governing authority may not impose local building requirements more stringent than those in the Florida Building Code and charter schools are exempt from ad valorem taxes and fees charged for building licenses.
Q. Are charter school teachers required to be certified?
A. Teachers employed by or under contract to a charter school are required to be certified (Ch. 1012, F.S.).