By Shauna Altman, Baker Web Academy Teacher
Baker Web Academy is a public school choice for students living in the state of Oregon. Sometimes we are asked how we can provide our school for free...
Have you every chartered an airplane? No? Me neither. But in writing this article, I was reminded that the term “charter” means different things in different contexts. The word comes from the latin word, charta, which literally mean card, or paper. In more practical terms, a charter is a contract that sets a binding agreement between two different parties. In the case of Oregon charter schools, the agreement is between the charter school and its sponsor, a local board of education. The agreement allows the charter school to operate under the oversight of that board. Parents are then able to choose to send their child to the local public school or to a charter school. Charter schools in Oregon are free because they are public schools.
Public schools are funded by the public, that is, the people. Taxes paid to the government go into different funds. Some of the funds are for education. There is a federal education fund, an Oregon education fund, and a local education fund that feeds money into a school district. In general, a school district receives a certain amount of money based on enrollment, attendance, and other factors such as the students' socioeconomic status or special education needs.
After the sponsoring school district receives their funds from the state, they give an agreed upon amount of the funds to the charter school to operate. This is be calculated based on enrollment and attendance. The charter school then uses that money to operate the school. At BWA, it goes to paying certified teachers, providing a wide range of technology, and supplying comprehensive curriculum for students. The budget also allows for operational costs of running student centers and an online school. All expenses must still meet the rules of the charter. They must also be allowable under state law.
Because charter schools are unique, the agreement between a sponsoring district and its charter school will look different from school to school. Baker Web Academy (BWA), an online charter school for grades kindergarten through 12th grade, has an agreement with the local board of education, which is the Baker 5J school board. Any eligible student in Oregon can join Baker Web Academy.
Since 1999, Oregon has recognized the value of charter schools as a way to support innovation and educational choice. Many families choose Baker Web Academy (BWA) because of our dedicated advisory teachers that help with progress monitoring and make regular home visits. We know that running a school isn’t actually free. There is a cost to educating students. But it is our responsibility as a school to use our funding responsibly to ensure that all students have a fair and equitable education in the state of Oregon.
So, even though chartering an airplane seems like a fun idea, it is probably not in the budget for any Oregon charter schools. The benefit of our charter is that your student gets to have a high-quality, home-based educational experience that is publicly funded with no additional cost to you. If your family is ready to soar into free, home-based learning, find out more about our admissions process here.
 "Public Charter School Funding - Oregon.gov." https://www.oregon.gov/ode/learning-options/schooltypes/charter/Documents/Public%20Charter%20School%20Funding.pdf. Accessed 8 Apr. 2019.
 "Charter Schools - Oregon State Legislature." https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Reports/CharterSchools.pdf. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.