Education in Alberta is all about choice
Charter schools are autonomous non-profit public schools designed to provide innovative or enhanced education programs that improve the acquisition of student skills, attitudes and knowledge in some measurable way.
Charter schools have characteristics that set them apart from other public schools in meeting the needs of a particular group of students through a specific program or teaching/learning approach while following Alberta Education's Program of Studies.
Alberta Education strives to put students’ needs first, and parents and students have made it clear that they believe choice in Alberta’s education system is one of its strengths. Charter schools also have increased responsibility for research and innovation in education. That’s why we strongly support charter schools.
Taking action to provide long-term stability
Alberta’s 13 charter schools occupy 23 school buildings, 20 of which are owned by school districts, mainly in Calgary and Edmonton.
In 2012, amendments to the Charter Schools Regulation enabled the Minister of Education to grant 15-year charter renewals to charter schools that meet additional criteria. Several schools have already been approved for 15-year charters.
Charter schools have expressed concern about their ability to secure long-term access to school facilities and to control the buildings they occupy with regard to facility enhancements and maintenance.
The province is taking action to ensure that charter schools in the future will own the buildings they occupy or have long-term leases in place to align with the length of the school’s charter – this will provide an added sense of stability to both students and their families.
Collaborative approach will provide more control over facilities
A collaborative approach involving government, school jurisdictions and municipalities, will provide charter schools with more control over their facilities. The approach is to transfer ownership of facilities from school jurisdictions directly to the charter schools or to secure long-term leases of the buildings.
These title transfers and long-term leases will allow charter schools to better plan for the future, because their school buildings will be available for at least the length of the school’s charter term.
Work is actively underway on the necessary preparations to enable these transfers and leases to move ahead.
The Minister of Education has so far requested and received cooperation from five school authorities to start the transfer process or to enter into long-term leases for facilities for the following charter schools:
- Almadina School
- Aurora School
- Calgary Arts Academy
- Calgary Girls' School
- Connect Charter School (formerly Calgary Science School)
- CAPE - Centre for Academic and Personal Excellence
- Foundations for the Future Charter Academy Charter School
- New Horizons School
- Suzuki Charter School
- Westmount Charter School
Ministry staff have been tasked with providing technical support to the local school authorities.
Allowing charter schools to own Reserve land
The Minister of Education has requested that the Minister of Municipal Affairs undertake the necessary steps to allow charter schools to own schools that they currently occupy and which are situated on Reserve land (as defined in section 666 of the Municipal Government Act ). Staff from both departments are working together to determine how this may be achieved as quickly as possible.
Current charter school capital projects
Recent announcements of school capital projects have included significant investment to upgrade and renovate facilities for several charter schools: Calgary Arts Academy, Centre for Academic and Personal Excellence, Foundations for the Future and Westmount Charter School. Information regarding all school capital projects underway and recently announced is available here: /department/ipr/capitalplanning/newschools2013.aspx
Charter school facility needs will continue to be taken into consideration in the prioritization of projects for any future school capital announcements.
Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal funding
Any charter school that is given title or long-term lease to a school facility will also be provided with an annual allocation of Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal funding for the building. Detailed information regarding this funding is available in section 7 of the School Capital Manual: /media/7664910/school%20capital%20manual%20-%20october,%202013%20-%20revised.pdf
The Charter School Handbook outlines the procedures for establishing a Charter school.
Click here for information on the Charter School Amended Regulation.
Click here to view information on Charter School Concept Paper.
Click here to view the results of consultation on charter schools that occurred in 2011.
Click here to view information on Charter School Background Information.
Click here to view a list of Charter Schools in Alberta.
Click here to view information on Charter schools and special education.
For additional information, please contact Phil Butterfield at 403-297-7910 (toll-free by dialing 310-0000 first).