Frequently Asked Questions

/Frequently Asked Questions

Charter public schools, unlike traditional public schools, are academically accountable in two ways. They are held accountable by their authorizer and, most importantly, by the families they serve. When a team of school developers submit their charter petition, they must define their academic goals. To be authorized, their goals must be rigorous. In order to stay open, they must meet or exceed those goals.

Families make the choice to enroll their children in charter schools, and families can remove them if they are dissatisfied with the school. A charter school that neglects its academic duties will soon find that its enrollment has dwindled, and major changes may be necessary for the school to remain open.

California law gives charter schools autonomy and flexibility in exchange for increased accountability. Charter schools must be renewed at least every five years by the school district or authorizer to ensure they have good academic results, and that they are operating in a fiscally and operationally responsible manner.

Every charter school is allowed the freedom to create its own educational methodology. Teachers, students, parents and administrators all have a say in the types of instructional methods, materials and academic programs the school offers. Charter school models include, but are not limited to: college preparation, dual language immersion, performing arts, math, science, technology and much more. Furthermore, all academic programs must align with the Common Core State Standards, and charter school students must participate in state required standardized testing. Charter schools must also develop a Local Control Accountability Plan, which is a required component for the Local Control Funding Formula.

All charter schools authorized by a school district pay an oversight fee to that school district, which provides for the cost of the district conducting school visits, fiscal and academic monitoring, renewal evaluation and other required forms of oversight. Charter schools pay between one and three percent of their revenues to the district to cover these oversight costs.

Charter schools that receive school district facilities under Prop. 39 or through other facility use agreements pay the school district for those facilities.

Many charter schools pay additional funds to their authorizing district to provide back-office/administrative services, under separate contracts. And many charter schools also pay the district to provide food services or for special education services.

Money allocated to charter schools does not come out of school districts’ budgets. The state and the federal government allocate education funds based on the number of students, their grade level and their needs. If a student chooses to go to a charter school, the money is allocated to the charter school to educate that student. In other words, the money follows the student. It is the student’s money, not the district’s.

Charter schools receive less per pupil funding even though the funding follows each student. A historical and significant funding inequity between charter schools and traditional school districts has been clearly documented by the State Legislative Analyst, Rand Research and others. Historically, the gap has exceeded $600 per pupil in base state operating funds. These inequities are often more significant than reported, because charter schools do not have equitable access to facilities or facilities funding, and often must pay for facilities out of their general operating funds. Charter schools also rarely have access to local school bonds or parcel taxes that benefit traditional schools. Charter schools are also denied access to some large programs, such as Target Instructional Improvement Grants (TIIG) and Transportation.

The LCFF has reduced some of this inequity because charters are now funded in much the same way other public schools are.

In California, traditional district school and charter public schools are funded under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which allocates state and local tax dollars to public education agencies based on the number of pupils in each grade level. Additional funding is provided for students with high needs, such as low-income pupils and English learners and foster youth. Public funding generally follows the student to the public school the parents choose, whether a charter school or a traditional district school. When charter schools are funded, there is no overall loss of public school money because charter schools are public schools.

Charter schools must operate in accordance with state and federal law. They must abide by health and safety laws, and cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Charter school governing bodies are often subject to various laws that apply to nonprofit public benefit organizations, such as ethical financial practices, and public body rules, such as open meeting laws. Also, like all public school districts, charter schools must have an annual independent financial audit in accordance with state rules. Charter schools also have oversight from their authorizers (the local school district). Authorizers review financial reports, Accountability Plans, and they have the authority to conduct audits to determine if the charter school should be renewed at the end of the charter school’s term (usually every five years). An authorizer can revoke a charter school for violations of law, fiscal mismanagement, or if the school is not meeting pupil academic outcomes or the terms of its charter.

No. While parental involvement is a critical factor to student success, Highland Academy does not require parental involvement as a condition of enrollment.

Families of the hundreds of thousands of students in California who attend charter schools would not call charters a fad. Evidence argues that the public has never been more supportive of charter schools based on growth in charter school enrollment, waiting list numbers, and polling data. This growth in support has occurred during a period when charter schools have been held more accountable than traditional public schools and have strengthened their performance.

Charter schools are an important part of the state’s public school system, providing a space for innovation, educational opportunity in low-income communities and unique curriculum options. Charter schools have been reinventing public education in California for nearly 25 years.

Highland Academy is not.  For profit charter schools represent less than 1% of charter schools in California.

Charter schools, like all public schools, are subject to the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA), thus are subject to the state’s collective bargaining laws. The decision to unionize is made at the local level involving schools and their employees on a case by case basis.  Highland Academy is not unionized at this time.

Charters schools are public schools. They are non-sectarian, tuition-free and open to any student who wishes to attend. Charter schools allow parents, teachers and the community to transform our public school system. Choice is a powerful tool for parents seeking access to quality education for their children.

Yes!  Our HOWL (Helping Others While Learning) program is open daily from dismissal until 6:00 for a very reasonable cost.  Call the front office at 951-266-0220 or contact Mrs. Jenny Djonne at jdjonne@highland-academy.org for more information!

There is an incredibly common misconception out there that charter schools and private schools are the same and that parents have to pay tuition for their kids to attend a charter school. Wrong! Charter schools are free to all students and are funded in the same way public schools are. In fact, it is illegal for charter schools to charge tuition. Pass it on- the more educated people are about charters, the more society will embrace them.

Like all California traditional public schools, charter schools must be a member of a Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA). Currently, we maintain status with the Beaumont Unified School District as a “school of the district” for special education services.

No, Highland Academy is independent of the school district.  Beaumont USD is our charter authorizer and has oversight responsibilities, however we have our own Board of Directors, hire our own employees, and make our own decisions to benefit our students.

No, Highland Academy currently does not have a high school, however this remains in our long term plans.

Highland Academy currently serves students in grades TK-8.

Highland Academy Charter School is located at 715 Wellwood Ave. in the city of Beaumont in what used to be known as the Wellwood Center or Wellwood Elementary.

 

All students at Highland Academy take the SBAC as appropriate for their grades. Also, Highland Academy administers the ELPAC test for English Learners. Students will also take benchmark assessments periodically throughout the year to monitor their progress.

No. Any resident of California is eligible to attend, space permitting, as long as they can get their students to and from school.

The California Ed Code requires a lottery for all charter schools who receive more enrollment applications than they have room for. If our enrollments exceed our available space, then we will have a lottery. If our enrollments do not exceed our available space, then all applicants will be automatically enrolled.  Details regarding our lottery can be found on our enrollment application.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This type of curriculum combines all of these subjects together so that students can learn and apply principles from each area to help them learn about the others. By learning all of these subjects together, they will be able to remember what they learn and apply it more effectively.  Highland Academy currently offers multiple levels of STEM as an elective class.

Yes! All teachers hold a valid, California credential for the area they teach in. This will help to ensure that all students get the best educational program possible.

Complete the enrollment packet which can be found at our website under “resources” and submit the application, along with (1) a copy of a valid birth certificate, (2) current immunization records, (3) a copy of a recent utility bill, and (4) the most recent transcript or report card from your student’s current school.  Applications can be turned in to the front office by hand or emailed to the Directors’ Assistant Mrs. Samantha Mosher at smosher@highland-academy.org

If there are no spaces available when the application is turned in, the student will be place on the “waiting list”.