• Welcome
    Welcome to the PPS Charter Schools webpage for families and community members.  Here you can find information on the charter schools PPS sponsors, and find answers to frequently asked questions.  Please contact the Charter Schools Program Director or her assistant with any questions, concerns, or comments.  For questions about enrollment or the application process in a specific charter school, please contact that school directly.  Thank you.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a charter school?
    Charter schools are public schools that are intended to provide innovative programs with specific educational philosophies and/or delivery models that offer additional options for students and families within the public school system.  Charter schools are 501(c)3 organizations that enter into a contract with Portland Public Schools for sponsorship and they maintain a high level of autonomy in exchange for increased accountability.  Charter schools are governed by Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 338.

    What is the relationship between charter schools and PPS?  
    PPS is responsible for oversight and monitoring of all charter schools sponsored by the district.  PPS collects required annual deliverables, monitors financial stability and student performance, and ensures that the charter school is compliant with law and the contract.  Additionally, PPS provides support and partnership to charter schools in a variety of ways – technology support, monthly directors’ meetings, and professional development, to name a few.

    How does a student enroll in a charter school? 
    Charter school enrollment must be fair and equitable, and may only be limited by the age of the student, the grade of the student, and the space available.  No other admissions criteria may be used.  If a charter school receives fewer applications than it has spots available in a particular grade/class, then all applicants should be admitted.  If the charter school receives more applications than it has spots available in a particular grade/class, then it must conduct an equitable, blind lottery to determine enrollment for that class/grade. 

    A charter school may admit students who reside in other districts, but priority must first be given to students who reside in the district where the charter school is located.  Charter schools may employ a sibling preference provision after a student has been enrolled for the prior school year, but this is not mandatory.  Charter schools manage and run their own application cycles and lotteries.

    Are charter schools free, public schools? 
    Yes, charter schools are public schools and are free to attend. 

    Can my student get services such as Special Education or ELL services? 
    Yes.  Charter schools partner with the district for Special Education (SpEd), as the district is ultimately responsible for ensuring that students in need of SpEd services receive them.  PPS provides SpEd learning center teaching staff, speech/language pathologists, and school psychologists to charter schools, and charter schools work with these teachers to provide a comprehensive education for all students. 

    Charter schools are responsible for serving the needs of students qualifying as English Language Learners.  This can be done in a variety of ways, but each charter school must produce a plan that is: (1) based on a sound educational theory or legitimate experimental strategy; (2) implemented effectively, and (3) produces results that demonstrate that language barriers are being overcome.

    Are charter schools open to students who live outside PPS boundaries?
    Students who live anywhere in Oregon may attend PPS charter schools.  However, for the purposes of the admissions process, PPS resident students receive first priority for enrollment.  If there are spaces left in a particular grade/class once all interested PPS students have enrolled, then the charter school may enroll students who reside in other districts.

    How are charter schools funded? 
    The vast majority of charter schools’ funding typically comes from Oregon’s State School Fund, which are public dollars allocated for education.  By statute, charter schools must receive a minimum of 80% of the per-student dollar amount for students in grades K-8, and 95% for students in grades 9-12.  Charter schools can apply for and receive grants and private donations, and can conduct fundraising activities.

    Are sports options available at charter schools?
    This depends on the school and the facilities that are available at the charter school.  Charter schools are not required to provide sports.  However, students who attend charter schools do have the right to participate in sports at their neighborhood school.

    Who is responsible for providing transportation for charter school students – the district or the charter school? 
    Charter schools are required to ensure that transportation is not a barrier to enrollment of their students.  Given that charter school students can come to the school from all areas of the district, charter schools can employ a variety of options such as: organizing parent carpools, providing direct transportation, providing bus passes to families and/or students, etc.  Charter school students are also eligible to ride on already-existing district bus routes, if the stops are convenient to the charter school.

    Do charter schools follow the same calendar as PPS?  
    Most charter schools typically follow the PPS calendar, but they are not required to.  Some charter schools offer extended school days or a longer school year.

    Can children younger than five attend charter schools? 
    The birthday cut-off date for entry into Kindergarten in Oregon is September 1.  Each district in Oregon maychoose to implement a process by which parents can apply to have their student(s) enter Kindergarten early, if the child’s birthday falls after this date.  Charter schools that offer Kindergarten may choose to adopt an early entry process, but this is not required.  If a charter school chooses to allow early entry, the school must follow PPS’s procedure, and parents must have their student assessed by the TAG department to determine readiness.  Accordingly, the charter school must abide by whatever conclusion the TAG department makes about the student’s readiness for early entry into Kindergarten.

    Are charter schools accredited? 
    PPS charter high schools are required to be accredited.  Any charter school not serving high school may be accredited, but this is not required.


Tara O'Neil
Program Director, PPS Charter Schools
(503) 916-3359
Jenny Braden
Administrative Assistant, PPS Charter Schools
(503) 916-3857