The Charter School Institute

In 2004, the Charter School Institute (CSI) was formed to encourage creation of charter schools serving at-risk students and to model best practices in charter school authorizing. The board of directors for CSI is comprised of nine people, seven of whom are appointed by the governor, with the remaining two members appointed by the Colorado commissioner of education.

A local school board never loses its authority to authorize charter schools under this law, but it may share that authority with CSI in some communities. For some school boards, this exclusive chartering authority is assured (those with fewer than 3,000 students). Other school boards must demonstrate to the state board that they have treated charter schools in a fair and equitable manner to retain their exclusive chartering status.

CSI cannot approve a charter school within the boundaries of a school district when the board has exclusive chartering authority to authorize charter schools. All charter schools authorized by the school board will continue to be district charter schools unless they go through a process to convert to institute charter schools.

The application and requirements for an institute charter school are essentially the same as those for district charter schools. Institute charter school students are included in the funded pupil count of the district where the school is located. The funding is then transferred out of the state equalization payments that otherwise would have been paid to the school district. In this way, the funding is based solely on state funds, using the same per pupil funding formula currently in place for school districts.