TO START: THINKING ABOUT A CHARTER SCHOOL
Our concept of 4 stages:
• Stage 1: Curiosity
• Stage 2: Initial Interest
• Stage 3: Moving Forward ...
Department of Education Vision & Design Grants
4: Starting a School ... Department of Education Start-up Grants
One or more persons thinks “This is interesting. I’d like to know
more about the charter school law and option. Maybe I, some people
I know, or my school district would be interested.”
Advice: You are welcome to call our office and
ask questions (224-0366).
We don’t charge for information. Or you could contact Roberta Tenney
at the Department of Education. This web site links you to the charter
school law in New Hampshire, how
charter schools work, how charter schools fit into the national
interest of choice public schools. Read about the approved
charter schools and the groups
incubating ideas in New Hampshire.
Stage 2: Initial Interest ... See if You Have 3-4 people for
a Starting Team
After considering the charter school development process and model,
an interested person needs to find one or more similarly-interested
adults. Pursuing a charter school involves tremendous work. No matter
how many people become involved, a small design team is apt to do
most of the actual work. What many successful groups do is hold
one or more local meetings, either open to the public or by invitation,
to see if there is interest and/or need for a school.
Advice: Request an introductory informational program in your area
and invite others. You can accomplish this in someone’s home or
in a public forum, e.g. at the library or town office. Our office
provides informational seminars at no cost to those considering
a potential charter school project. We believe it's highly important
to start with accurate information about state and federal charter
school law and the process for developing and seeking authorization
for a chartered public school.
Stage 3: Moving Forward ...
people wanting to explore their interest, study feasibility, or
pursue parent/community interest, feasibility or vision grants are
not available through New Hampshire since 2007. Although these small
planning grants were available in 2005 and 2006, in fact receiving
one takes away one year of possible start-up funding. For $10,000,
it is not worth giving up a year of school start-up funding.
With or without this “vision and planning” grant, a group can study
feasibility, write, and submit a charter application. Potential
applicants must know the law about who can submit a charter application.RSA
194-B:3, V, states: “Persons or entities eligible to submit
an application to establish a charter school shall include:
(a) a nonprofit organization including, but not limited to, a college,
university, museum, service club, or similar entity,
(b) a group of 2 or more New Hampshire certified teachers,
(c) a group of 10 or more parents.”
separate provision allows any existing public school to convert
to charter status. One of the education rules requires even any
applicant group to submit its proposal as a Chapter 292 non-profit
organization. This is not difficult to do. Click
here for forms to create your non-profit if you are not working
through an existing non-profit organization, e.g. Friends of the
ABC Schools or the YMCA. The purpose for the requirement of applicants
to form as a non-profit was to assure any money awarded did not
just go into someone’s personal account with no financial reporting
New Hampshire’s charter school law does not allow a school district
to submit a charter; however, a school district can collaborate,
help sponsor, or even create a non-profit organization that then
sponsors a charter school application. Charter school applications
developed with university, business, or school district support
will have more strength and credibility when asking a public body
There are over 4,300 chartered public schools in the United States.
You can get wonderful ideas from schools that exist, but the laws
in each state differ so charter applications from other states may
not fulfill all of New Hampshire’s requirements.
4: Submitting a Charter Application
(and, if approved, writing a start-up grant)
The State Board of Education is the only body under NH law that
can award a five-year charter.
the charter is awarded, it must be “authorized” so the school can
open. At least seven groups have been awarded chartered that were
not subsequently authorized.
Hampshire has 2 authorizers: 1) the legislative body of the local
school district (everywhere except cities this is the voters--and
the procedures are very time intensive), and 2) the State Board
the charter application is authorized, then the planning to start
work begins. The school must open within 2 years under New Hampshire
guidelines. If a federal start-up grant is awarded (through the
US Department of Education until New Hampshire again receives a
start-up grant), the school must open within 18 months of the start-up
New Hampshire Center for School Reform web site is dedicated to
providing technical assistance to groups starting charter schools.
How-To guidelines are outlined for many initial procedures you need
to enact. Contact
us for assistance or to answer questions or for help with charter
applications and the authorization process.
grants are only allowed for 36 months. They are competitive and
not guaranteed. There is a specific grant from the US Department
of Education for new charter schools opening in states without a
state grant, such as New Hampshire in 2008.
Complicated first steps after authorization include:
a. creating a Board of Trustees (a different board than the sponsoring
b. developing the Board of Trustees’ initial governing policies
so these can be voted at the board's first meeting,
c. obtaining Board insurance, as required (should not meet until
there is a binder for this),
d. setting up a financial office or system, adopting financial management
policies, preparing the charter school to be an independent employer,
e. setting up an office, contact number, and method of providing
information to others (our website lists each project and its contact
information so others can find and contact new charter schools),
f. developing an initial personnel system including recruitment
g. selecting a bank and establishing bank accounts,
h. establishing an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for the
i. selecting a treasurer or fiscal agent who would have check-writing
authority and bonding, as required.
technical assistance group can help you with these tasks.
For assistance in these areas, contact