Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Charter Schools. They are divided in into 3 sections, General, Charter School Myths and Enrollment Questions.
What kinds of support for learning do students receive beyond the classroom?
TECS provides multiple services for academic support beyond the classroom. Such services include: special education, Response to Intervention (K-3), regular tutoring, help from full-time classroom aide, and many others. The school also offers many other services. Our school psychologist operates as an instructional leader as well as a child behavior expert who readily attends to students in need. Our school counselor’s work extends to each child in the school. We have a nationally recognized history competition program in which our students have consistently ranked the top in the nation. Our involved Parent Organization provides a myriad of support services in a variety of venues. Furthermore, we offer and pay for each parent to take the Parent Spalding course, an incredibly influential ten-hour course that equips parents with tools to support their children. This collective, community effort provides students with the best opportunity to achieve success.
What feedback does the school receive from its stakeholders, both parents and students?
Annual surveys administered to school stakeholders consistently return overwhelmingly positive remarks. Our parents, for instance, routinely respond with approval ratings above 95%. Though we occasionally receive suggestions, suggestions we both welcome and seek as we continually strive for improvement, the main message that we receive loud and clear is to stay the course. Our stakeholders are happy with who we are and don’t want us to change. In an industry that sways back and forth from one new educational fad to another, our stakeholders appreciate our commitment to tried and true, time tested and proven instructional methods.
What is TECS's record of fiscal management?
TECS has a long-term record of exemplary fiscal management. TECS is committed to putting both quality and quantity personnel in front of students, thus investing in people over things. The large number of high caliber teachers, aides, and other support staff have a direct correlation with the effective delivery of the school’s platform and therefore student success. TECS also consistently takes a conservative, long-term approach to budgeting, exemplified by our track record of quality contingency savings. This approach has allowed the school to not only avoid layoffs during years of recession, but increase salaries and pay cash for large purchases and construction projects.
Are the schools accredited?
Yes. Both Edison North and South are accredited through AdvancEd.
Does a charter school charge tuition?
No. Charter schools are public schools, funded by taxpayers, just as local district public schools. Charter schools are free to parents.
How are charter schools funded?
Generally, Utah charter schools are funded the same as district schools with a few exceptions, namely charter schools do not receive transportation funds and they cannot tax the public. Furthermore, local district schools retain property tax revenues for all students residing within their boundaries, regardless of their enrollment in a charter school. To help make up for these lost funds, the state has supplemented a portion for charter schools through an income tax-based fund called the Local Replacement Fund (LRF).
Are the students at charter schools assessed for academic performance?
Charter school students must participate in the same testing that public school students do. Results are published through the USOE.
Testing is a byproduct of our instructional program rather than our focus. We do not teach to tests, including state tests. Many schools are pressured by state tests and borrow from curriculum in other subjects to prepare for them. We operate on the basis of high expectations, but do not pressure teachers or students to treat state tests any differently than our weekly and monthly assessments. The link below contains a copy of our schools’ position statement of statewide assessments. The Parent Handbook also contains more information, especially regarding our TECS-specific assessment system.
How can I get my child into a charter school?
Charter schools enroll children through a lottery according to state law and federal funding guidelines. Parents sign an application for enrollment and their child is entered into a lottery, from which the seats are filled. We invite parents to contact the schools for additional information.
Do all charter schools have a “focus”?
Utah is unique in that several of the first few charter schools had a focus, such as the Jean Massieu School for the Deaf and Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts. This created a misunderstanding that charter schools are "specialty" schools. While several charter schools do have a narrowed specialty, most simply focus on academic achievement of students. Being granted a certain amount of autonomy to use innovative instructional methods, the philosophy of a charter schools is to provide parents choices and options in the education of their children according to student need and family philosophies.
Do charter schools have uniforms?
Many charter schools have uniforms or dress codes. TECS’s dress code can be found here.
Charter School Myths
MYTH: Charter School teachers don’t have to be certified.
Charter school teachers are under the same licensing requirements as teachers at other public schools. All TECS teachers are properly certified by the state of Utah.
MYTH: Charter Schools only take the “best” students.
Charter school students are selected by a random drawing, so charter schools are UNABLE to "choose" the children they will teach. Instead, the choice actually lies with parents. The beauty of the concept of charter schools is that parents are empowered to research and choose the school they feel is best for their children.
MYTH: Charter Schools get more money per pupil than regular district schools.
Charter schools receive LESS money per student than their neighborhood school receives per student. The Utah Taxpayers Association calculates that charter schools receive $610 (or 10.2%) per student less than district schools.
MYTH: Charter Schools “drain” money from public schools.
In areas where student populations are increasing, charters don't negatively impact the school district financially. The "dollars follow the scholars," and as students move to a charter school, their funding follows them. In growing districts, that student's seat is filled by another student and there is no negative financial impact on the district. In fact, growing districts experience significant benefits from charter schools. It is estimated that the two Thomas Edison schools house nearly 1000 Cache District students, saving the district from building two elementary schools.
In addition, school districts are allowed to keep the property tax revenue for students who attend charter schools in their district. And since the district is no longer responsible to educate those charter school students, they no longer have any associated expenses. The result is a significant net increase to the district’s revenue stream. For a charter school of 500 students, the district gets to keep over $350,000 annually. Clearly, under the current funding process, charter schools financially BENEFIT the local districts.
What is the deadline for enrollment for next year?
The deadline for enrollment is established in the fall or winter for the next school year. Typically it is in January or February.
Can I enroll my children now?
Each year there is an open enrollment period where parents can make application to be included in the lottery. Parents should contact the schools for additional information.
Do we have to re-enroll each year?
Children who are attending the school will be able to retain their place in the school next year.
What is the enrollment process?
As part of your investigation into our school, we ask that you:
- Spend 45 minutes observing in the classroom at the grade level being considered.
- Spend 45 minutes observing in another grade level (or in a second grade level being considered).
- View and return the school's DVD.
- Review the Parent Handbook
When is your enrollment lottery?
Our lottery generally takes place early in the calendar year, usually in the month of January.
What do I do if my child's name is selected in the lottery?
If your child's name is selected, you will need to complete a registration packet and return it to the school within one week of notification. The school also needs a copy of your child's birth certificate and immunization records.
What happens if there is space available for some, but not all, of my children?
Siblings of enrolled students are placed on a sibling waiting list. They will be offered enrollment before children on the non-sibling waiting list. With the natural attrition of people moving out of the area, it is likely that all of your children can be in the school within a year, especially if you are willing to move a child mid-year.
What about younger siblings? How can I make sure they get in the school?
Younger siblings go through the lottery process and are offered enrollment before children on the non-sibling waiting list. There are normally more openings available than the list of siblings going into kindergarten.
Do I have to live in a certain area to attend a charter school?
No. Charter schools generally can serve students living in any district in Utah who wish to apply.
I really want this school for my children. What can I do if my child is not selected in the lottery?
Typically, if you are willing to wait, your child will be able to be enrolled in our school. Even if waiting lists are long, some parents move or make other plans before they are called. This means that dedicated parents move up the list quickly.
My child is on the waiting list. What are the chances of him/her getting in this year? Do you fill vacancies if someone leaves?
Chances are very good that your child will be able to be enrolled, even if they are on a waiting list. Vacancies are filled from the waiting lists. Your chances dramatically increase as time goes on since some parents have been unwilling to move a child later in the year. Even children over number 30 on the waiting list have gotten in mid-year.
We had our child in Thomas Edison but left. Now we want to come back. What do we need to do to re-enroll?
Yes, you will need to complete a new enrollment form and repeat the process for admission.
Can I put my one year old on the waiting list?
No. Each year we hold a lottery for enrollment. Putting a 1 year old on the waiting list would not be of any advantage, as each year the lottery is repeated.
My four year old is reading. Can I enroll him/her in kindergarten?
In Utah a child must be at least 5 years old on or before September 1 of the year that they begin school. There are no exceptions to this rule.
My child needs to be moved ahead or held back a year. Is this an option?
This is handled on a case by case basis and includes the parents, teacher and principal.
How do you handle enrollment and transition of special needs or gifted students?
Special needs students are identified and taken through the proper channels of Special Education. Previous IEP's are noted and any testing and placement that needs to be done is completed by our teachers. Gifted Students often receive an immediate challenge just by being in our program. We teach a grade level above in math and the rest of our pacing is quick and succinct. If a child is still in need of enhancements, this is taken care of by the individual student's classroom teacher with the input of the parents.