Minnesota’s charter law allows school districts to serve as authorizers of chartered schools. Some districts use authorizing as one “tool” in their belt for providing a diverse variety of schools to meet the needs of students within their boundaries.
Authorizing allows districts to hold the chartered schools they authorize accountable for results, while freeing the district from the burdens of managing or running the authorized schools directly and at the same time giving the schools extra space and flexibility to innovate.
One strategy school district have used as authorizers is to issue “Requests for Proposals” (RFPs) to start new charter schools within their boundaries, which fill district gaps in geographic areas served, learning models used, or to better serve particular student populations.
Contract Alternative Schools
Another option for districts to oversee rather than run schools directly is to use the “Contact Alternative” law (Minnesota Stat. 123A.05). Similar to authorizing charter schools, this allows a district to work with a nonprofit organization to manage and run a school.