What is a Charter School
Charter schools were authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1995 to provide an alternative to traditional
Open-enrollment charter schools are public schools that have the flexibility to adapt to the educational needs of individual students. Open-enrollment charter schools vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students, many with needs beyond the one-size-fits-all traditional public school. Often, these charter schools provide a personalized learning environment that promotes greater student achievement. In exchange for some autonomy, charter schools have increased accountability, and must meet the testing standards dictated by the state.
On charter campuses, school leaders are permitted more freedom in managing their school, allowing them to respond in the best interest of both parents and students. Teachers at charter schools are encouraged to structure lessons to the specific needs of their students. Some charter schools even provide curriculum that specializes in a certain field such as the arts, mathematics or science. Others provide a more efficient, general education based on the educational model set forth in the charter.
A public charter school with a stated mission to serve students in any grade level with a distinctive area of foci. Schools in this category include schools such as fine arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), early childhood, and all other special purpose public charter schools not described in any category above. These schools may have strong college readiness programs.
Texas Charter schools are tasked with accomplishing the following objectives:
- improve student learning;
- increase the choice of learning opportunities within the public school system;
- create professional opportunities that will attract new teachers to the public school system;
- establish a new form of accountability for public schools; and
- encourage different and innovative learning methods.
How are Charter Schools funded?
Charter schools receive state funds based on the average daily attendance of students (same as traditional public schools); however, they do not receive funds from local tax revenue and the majority, including Texas charters, do not receive state facilities funding. Texas Education Agency (TEA) data indicates that charter schools receive approximately $1,000 less in total revenue per pupil than traditional public schools.
In the State of Texas, the funding for students follows the student. Therefore, a school is funded based upon the children that attend that school. A traditional public school has small drawn boundaries and families within that district attend that school. A charter school generally has a much larger boundary and is therefore a school to which families can choose to attend should it be right for the child.
Do I have to pay anything for my child to attend a Charter School?
No. The schools are supported through public funding. A parent can expect to pay for similar items that you would pay for in a traditional school, i.e.; school supplies, extra-curricular activities, attendance to some performances, etc. In addition, as with the traditional public schools, there is the element of fundraising that does enhance the programs that can be offered.
Who attends a Charter School?
Any student who lives in Williamson County and wants to attend Meridian School can apply. Students must go through the lottery if there are more applications than student positions.
Is it difficult to start a Charter School?
Texas has a cap on open-enrollment charters of 305 to 2019. Up to 15 new charter schools can be approved annually through 2019. Open enrollment charters serve approximately 247,000 students on over 629 campuses across the state. In the State of Texas, charter schools operate under and receive academic accountability ratings from the Texas Education Agency. All charter students in Texas take the same state mandated tests as traditional public school students.
How did the Meridian School start?
A group of parents interested in educational choice for their students and community came together to create a school using the International Baccalaureate framework and curriculum for Williamson County. The Founders and Board Members consist of people interested in non-traditional public education. This group is especially determined to provide a global, transportable education creating life-long learners.
When did Meridian School open?
What grades are available?
How many Meridian Schools are there?
This is the first one. In the future, elementary and middle schools may be added as need requires.
How can I apply to Meridian School?
For the current school year, complete an application form online and submit. Information sessions are scheduled in January and February. All families interested in learning more about Meridian are encouraged to attend prior to submitting an application.
If applying for the following school year, the application window opens in January and closes at the end of February for the lottery in March. For those grades not oversubscribed, enrollment is on a first come, first served basis and will continue until the class is full.
Is it difficult to get into a Charter School?
It can be. Enrollment in Texas charter schools has increased. Last year, there were over 140,000 students on waiting lists for charter schools. Where space at a charter school is limited, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions.
If I apply, am I guaranteed a spot?
If the grade is over-subscribed, all applications for that class will go into a lottery and those who are selected at random will attend. This is state law. Siblings are given priority so that families will be able to have their children at one school.
How many students per classroom?
Kindergarten and First grade= 22 maximum
Second through Twelfth Grade= 25 maximum
These numbers are supported by the International Baccalaureate Organization as much of the work is group and/or team oriented.
Who runs the school?
a. A selected Board of Directors is responsible for school’s performance, policy provisions, and oversight and members serve three-year staggered terms. Board members are selected by existing board members and may be recommended by parents or community members.
b. The Board hires and oversees the Head of School (HoS). This position is equivalent to an ISD superintendent.
Will my child take standardized tests?
Yes, Texas Charter Schools are required to take all state required testing including the STARR and EOCs.
How does an inquiry based curriculum address our system and culture in the U.S.?
Meridian will cultivate international-mindedness and a positive attitude towards learning in our inquiry based program students. It is important that students first have a fundamental understanding of their own culture and national identity. All Meridian students will learn a second language to prepare them to work with others around the globe. We encourage students to ask thought- provoking questions, develop research skills, reflect critically and prepare them to learn how to learn.
We encourage action and service so that their education extends beyond the classroom.
What makes Meridian School special?
Many things make Meridian special, but as an IB Continuum, Meridian is authorized to offer all three International Baccalaureate programs from Kinder through 12th grade on one campus. This provides a unique opportunity to students and their families for a very high quality public school education.