Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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What is a charter school, and how is it different from other public schools?
A charter school is an independently run public school granted greater flexibility in its operations, in return for greater accountability for performance.
Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. They operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon district schools.
Charter schools are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. They must demonstrate performance in the areas of academic achievement, financial management, and organizational stability.
Charters serve all students, including those with special needs and English language learners.
Am I eligible to apply to a charter school?
Public charter schools are open-enrollment schools of choice. All students are free to apply!
Charter schools do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, homelessness, special needs, English language proficiency or foreign language proficiency, athletic ability or prior academic achievement.
Does it cost money to attend a charter school?
Charter schools ARE public schools, which means they are tuition-free.
What is the "lottery", and how does it work?
If there are not enough seats available after the lottery has been drawn, children will be placed on a waitlist. The school will notify parents if and when a seat becomes available.
If your student is placed on a waitlist, you can explore other school options for your child by visiting Families Empowered.
What is the Apply Houston Application?
In the fall of 2016, a group of Houston area charter schools chose to align their dates and deadlines and launch a common online application to ease the burden on parents from having to complete and submit applications to multiple charter schools for one or more children. With technology created and provided by SchoolMint, families can now apply for their child (or children) to multiple schools at once using either a computer, iPad, tablet, or mobile phone. The process is quite simple and should take 10 minutes or less to complete.
Which schools use the Apply Houston application? Can I apply to any charter school using Apply Houston?
No. Apply Houston applications are for KIPP Houston, YES Prep, Promise Community Schools, Étoile Academy, A+ Unlimited Potential, The Lawson Academy, Neighborhood Schools, and Bloom Academy. All other charter networks require separate applications, and may have different application dates. To explore all of your options, please visit Families Empowered.
Is this application the same as enrollment?
No. Your application demonstrates your interest in attending a particular school. It is not binding. If your situation changes, and you no longer wish to attend, you can contact the schools to which you applied to cancel your application. If you are offered a seat after the school’s lottery is run, you can choose to accept and enroll in that school, or choose to decline that offer.
Families Empowered recommends parents apply to three or more schools to increase the chance of finding a seat in a preferred school.
When does the Apply Houston application open?
The application will open on November 1, 2018.
Each school’s waitlist refreshes each year, meaning, if you were unable to secure a seat by the start of a new application period, you will need to submit a new application.
Once you are successfully enrolled, you may enroll again each year without reapplying.
When is the deadline to apply?
In order to be considered for the lottery, applications must be submitted by February 10, 2019.
Applications submitted after this date will likely be placed on a waiting list; late applications will only be considered if the school has space available.
How will I know if I completed the Apply Houston Application correctly?
Once completed, you will receive an email or text from SchoolMint confirming your submission of the ApplyHouston Application to the schools selected. If you started the application but did not compete it, you will receive an email or text prior to the application’s deadline to say your application is not yet complete and has not been submitted to schools.
Schools will hold their annual lotteries in Spring each year, and begin notifying parents in March.
When will I know if my child received a seat in a charter school?
Charter schools accept students by random, public lottery. All schools participating in Apply Houston will typically hold their annual lotteries in early March. Please visit each school’s website to find out when they will hold their individual lotteries for the upcoming school year. Families will be notified in accordance to the timeline provided in the enrollment policy of each school to which they’ve applied, whether their child received a seat for the upcoming school year or has been added to their waitlist.
If my child does not receive a seat this year, do I need to fill out the ApplyHouston Application again?
Yes. Applications submitted through Apply Houston still need to be submitted on an annual basis, and families seeking a charter school for their student will need to reapply each year by the stated deadline to be entered into a school’s lottery process.
Do charter schools have sibling preference?
Yes, siblings of a student currently enrolled in a charter school have preference for admission to that specific charter school only. The word “sibling” refers to persons who have a common parent, either biological or legally through adoption.
What are some of the age and other school requirements?
For entry to Pre-K4, prospective students must be age 4 on or before September 1, 2019. For entry to Kindergarten, students must be age 5 on or before September 1, 2019.
For schools whose entering grade levels are not Pre-K or Kinder, depending on the school, you may need to demonstrate completion of the previous grade prior to enrollment. For more information, please refer to the specific enrollment policies of the schools to which you are applying.
What if my family is homeless?
Please contact the school for which you would like to apply to learn about policy concerning homeless students.
Will I receive notification even if my child didn’t get in?
All families submitting a lottery application will receive notification stating whether or not their child was accepted by the lottery.
Please remember to check the email address you used when submitting your student’s application, and watch for mailed notifications from the schools you applied to. Notification will begin in March.
Does it help my chances if I apply multiple times?
No. Schools only accept one lottery entry per child. Duplicate entries are deleted prior to running the lottery.
Does this school provide transportation for students?
Promise Community Schools and A+ Unlimited Potential are not able to provide transportation.
If you live more than 2 miles away from your primary campus, KIPP Houston and YES Prep schools may provide transportation for your child to that particular campus. You will be notified whether you are in the primary zone to receive transportation when you apply for the lottery.