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An authorizer is an entity approved by the state legislature to bring charter schools into existence. Authorizers set up processes to approve or deny charter school applications and are accountable for managing and monitoring their charter schools' academic record and organizational viability, while also ensuring that they are in compliance with all applicable laws. In Maryland, the authorizer is the local school board and therefore in Baltimore City, the authorizer is City Schools.

Autonomy and Accountability

Charter operators are given more autonomy or freedom over their programs in exchange for greater accountability. Autonomies are outlined in Maryland State Charter Law and the charter application approved by the local school board. Charter schools are not exempt from complying with federal, state and local laws and policies, but may request from the state or local school board specific waivers from policies unrelated to student's health, safety or equal rights. In addition to submitting quarterly and annual reports to the authorizer, charter operators also undergo renewal as each contract comes to a close.



Curriculum, pedagogy and programming

Increased standards for student performance.

Subject to approval by local school board.

Grades served, including co-ed or single sex education

Subject to approval by local school board.

Employees - Charter schools may recruit principals and teaching staff, which become employees of City Schools, not the school operator. The charter operator may employ additional staff as long as those positions do not duplicate jobs covered in collective bargaining agreements. Charter operators may provide their own professional development for staff.

Principals and teaching staff are employees of the local school district. Hiring is subject to City Schools' approval. Evaluation, transfer and termination of employees are subject to collective bargaining contracts. All teaching staff must be certified.

Budgets - Operators choose how to spend per pupil dollars and may raise additional private dollars to support the school

Submit annual budget, quarterly updates and annual audit conducted by a 3rd party

Facilities - Operators can choose the location of their charter school

The site must be approved by the local school board and the operator must submit evidence of insurance and other safety certificates. Facilities are paid for with per pupil dollars.

Charter Application

Individuals and organizations interested in opening a public charter school must submit a detailed application to be approved by the local school board in which the charter school will be located. For more information about the Baltimore City application process, visit the City Schools website.

Conversion school

A school that was once a traditional public school managed by the local school district, but is now managed by an operator. In Baltimore City, conversion charter schools include:

  • Brehms Lane
  • City Springs Elementary/Middle
  • F.L. Templeton Preparatory Academy
  • Frederick Elementary
  • Govans Elementary
  • Green Street Academy
  • Hampstead Hill Academy
  • Rosemont Elementary/Middle
  • Wolfe Street Academy


In the event that a charter school receives more student applications than there are seats available, applicants are entered into a lottery. The lottery is held on a publicized date, is monitored by the local school district and is open to the public for viewing. Most charter school lotteries are held in March. Families are notified about the success of their application shortly thereafter.

Neighborhood zoned charter school

A neighborhood zoned charter school gives preference to students who live in the neighborhood in which the school is located. If additional seats are open, the school may accept student applicants from outside the zone. In Baltimore City, many charter schools with a neighborhood zone are conversion schools.

There are eight neighborhood zoned charter schools in Baltimore City:

  • Brehms Lane
  • City Springs Elementary/Middle
  • Coppin Academy
  • FL Templeton Public Charter School
  • Frederick Elementary
  • Govans Elementary
  • Hampstead Hill Academy
  • Midtown Academy
  • Rosemont Elementary/Middle
  • Wolfe Street Academy


Operator is the term used for the non-profit organization that manages a charter school. In Baltimore City, the majority of operators are grass-roots organizations founded by educators, neighborhood groups and even churches. The Board of the operator is usually made up of staff from the school and the non-profit, such as the principal and executive director, members of the community and parents. A list of Baltimore City operators, along with the schools they manage, can be found here.

Per Pupil Funding

In Maryland, funding follows the student. This practice is called per pupil funding. Instead of relying on complex formulas to determine the level of funds managed by each school, local school districts essentially divide total unrestricted revenue by district student enrollment. The resulting number is the dollar amount assigned to each student. Using this model, student enrollment drives the amount of funding at each public school and allows for more budgetary control at the school level.


(See here for more information about renewal)

Student application

Students interested in attending a charter school must submit an application form directly to the charter school. Applications are typically accepted through February. If there are more applicants than seats available, the charter school will hold a public lottery. For more information about charter school applications, visit the individual charter school website.