School Hours 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
Main Office 7:30 am - 4:30 pm
413 Fairview Street
Phoenixville, PA 19460
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are independent public schools, designed by educators, parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs, and others who are interested in providing a quality education to children in their community. Charters operate outside the educational bureaucracy that too often stifles innovation in traditional public schools. They are not private schools - as public schools, charters do not charge tuition and they may not "pick and choose" their students. However, charters do have similar attributes to private schools such as the autonomy and accountability that have allowed most private institutions to provide an excellent education to their customers.
Charter schools and cyber charter schools are unique and innovative initiatives that are changing and improving the educational landscape in Pennsylvania and across America. Charter schools are independent public schools custom-designed by local citizens -- including parents, teachers, and community leaders -- to fulfill a specific, often unique, and always locally-driven educational mission. A charter school, as defined by Act 22 of 1997, is an autonomous Local Education Agency (LEA). Act 88 of 2002 addresses issues related to cyber charter schools. Charter schools are designed to operate free of most state mandates, except those ensuring the health, safety, and civil rights of our children.
- Visit the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Website
- Visit the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website
Charter Schools FAQs
Why are charter schools so important?
Charter schools put communities in charge. They empower parents, teachers, and communities to custom-design unique educational programs that meet the specific needs of their children. Charter schools encourage competition and are designed to increase student achievement. Finally, charter schools are more accountable than traditional public schools. The concept is simple: the charter school must clearly state its educational goals and objectives and how it plans to achieve them. If the school does not meet the goals it sets, the community may vote not to renew the charter and the school may close.
Why should school boards support the creation of charter schools?
Charter schools enable communities to provide new and vibrant opportunities for their students and operate without many of the costly and stifling mandates that hinder creativity and innovation in public education. Through the creation of charter schools, school boards see firsthand how further mandate relief benefits all public schools in Pennsylvania. Also, charter schools foster innovation and serve as models for traditional public schools. Finally, through expanded community and parental involvement, charter schools increase support for public education in Pennsylvania.
Are Pennsylvanians interested in charter schools?
Absolutely. Since January 1997, the Department of Education has awarded competitive planning grants to Pennsylvanians interested in establishing charter schools in their communities. More than $5 million has been awarded to diverse organizations, enabling them to prepare charter school applications. One hundred seventeen public charter schools serving more than 50,000 students are operating in Pennsylvania. Twelve of these charter schools are cyber charter schools and serve over 10,000 students.
To assist Pennsylvanians in planning these innovative new schools, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has sponsored an ongoing series of workshops that focus on the essential elements of successful charter schools. Thousands of Pennsylvanians have attended these workshops, and the Department continues to receive many calls each week from individuals seeking more information about charter schools. Additionally, individuals at the grassroots level have mobilized their support for charter schools. The Charter School Resource Center, Philadelphia, and Foundations Inc./Drexel University in Philadelphia have each formed regional, technical-assistance centers to assist in the establishment and operation of charter schools.
Of significance, the operators of Pennsylvania's growing number of charter schools have formed the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools (PCCS) and are building this fledgling organization into a bona fide representative of the interests of Pennsylvania's education consumers.
Who grants the charter?
Individuals or groups seeking to establish a public school must apply to the local school board of the district in which the school will be located. The application must outline the school's educational mission and goals and its plan to achieve them. Individuals or groups seeking to establish a cyber charter school, which provides a significant portion of instruction through the Internet or other electronic means, must apply to the PA Department of Education. The application must outline the school's educational mission and goals and its plan to achieve them.
Why is a viable appeals process necessary?
On July 1, 1999, a State Charter Appeals Board (CAB) was constituted to hear appeals from groups that have been denied a charter, have had their charter revoked or have not had their charter renewed. The initial review by the locally elected school board recognizes the need for local oversight in establishing a charter school. However, it is possible that a school board might consider the creation of new, innovative educational opportunities as a criticism of the public schools in its community.
An appeal to an independent, regulatory panel (i.e., one without a direct stake in the outcome) protects the integrity of the charter process by providing applicants with an opportunity to obtain an objective, impartial review of a local decision.
How is a charter school funded?
A charter school receives funding from the school districts in which the students reside. The charter school receives the amount the district would spend on each student, minus the average per student expenditure for special education programs; nonpublic school programs; adult education programs; community/junior college programs; student transportation services; facilities acquisition, construction and improvement services; debt service and fund transfers; and federal programs from the school district or constituent districts for each resident student attending the charter public school.
For special education students, the charter public school receives an additional per pupil amount based on the district's special education expenditures divided by the state-determined percentage of students eligible for special education funding. Intermediate units also must provide special education services to charter schools at the same cost as services provided other schools, as requested.
Funds received by charter schools are taxpayer dollars that support students who are residents of local school districts. These funds are expended regardless of whether the students attend charter schools or traditional public schools. Implementation funding grants are also available for approved charter schools through a federal grant.
Who can attend a charter school?
Pennsylvania students are eligible to attend a charter school at no charge to their families. The students of the school district that grants the charter receive first preference. Students from outside the district can attend tuition-free on a space-available basis. The school district in which a student resides is responsible for charter school funding. If there are more applicants than spaces available, students shall be selected by lottery. Additionally, a charter school may be a regional school, approved by more than one school district, allowing the approving districts' students equal access to the charter school's lottery.
Students from outside the approving districts can attend regional charter schools tuition-free on a space-available basis. Charter schools may establish reasonable criteria for admission to a particular grade level or area of concentration, e.g., pre-requisites in technology, math, science, or the performing arts. In 1999, the General Assembly amended the charter school law to allow charter schools to restrict admission to "at-risk" students.
Because a charter school is deregulated, do enough safeguards exist to protect the students?
Enrollment in a charter school is voluntary. If the parents are not satisfied, the student may return to his or her assigned school in their district of residence. Charter schools must adhere to all laws and regulations protecting the health, safety and civil rights of their students and to all other sections of the Public School Code and state regulations specifically enumerated in Act 22 of 1997.
How widespread is the charter school movement?
The first charter schools law was passed in Minnesota in 1991. As of July 2004, 40 states have laws allowing for the creation of charter schools. Strong laws are necessary to ensure the creation of charter schools.
Bi-Annual Federal Program Meeting
The mission of the Renaissance Academy is to be a diverse-minded community who prepares a varied cross-section of students for success as scholars, workers, and citizens by providing them with a world-class liberal arts, college-preparatory education. This inclusive environment, where high standards, technological innovation, growth-mindset, unique experiences, creativity, and accountability are the norm, aims to achieve lasting gains in students' academic performance and includes the development of a strong alumni network.
The Renaissance Academy Charter School student makes an active decision to be educated at the school because the student and their family desire an award-winning, college-prepared, liberal arts education. With rapport as a foundation, the school is a safe, respectful, rigorous and goal-oriented environment that is driven by the expectation that all students are able to realize their full potential.
The core values embraced by Renaissance Academy are Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Compassion, Hope, Respect, Responsibility, and Integrity.
Code of Conduct
I am here to learn. Therefore I will:
- Respect myself, others and the environment.
- Cooperate with all school personnel.
- Do nothing to keep the teacher from teaching, or keep anyone, including myself, from learning.
School Safety and Visitor Information
- All visitors must check in at the Upper School office, where they will be asked to present a government issued photo ID. This ID will be scanned into our security system which has the ability to provide alerts on people who may jeopardize the safety of the campus.
- A Visitor ID must be worn at all times. All staff members are instructed to ask anyone without a visitor badge or school ID displayed to report to the main office to sign in and to alert the office staff.
- Any parent wishing to visit their students’ class should call ahead to make arrangements with the classroom teacher or administrator.
- Renaissance Academy encourages parents to be active in the learning process but also realizes excessive parent traffic at school can be disruptive to the learning environment. The school tries to strike a balance between an open door policy and maintaining an optimum learning environment. Please assist us in this.
Emergency school closings are communicated directly to phone and email contacts in our school information database.
Limerick Emergency Plan Information
The Renaissance Academy has developed an emergency plan to protect the students in the event of an incident at the Limerick Generating Station. Every effort will be made to close the school in the event that an incident occurs outside of school hours; however, plans have been developed to address any situations occurring while school is in session. For the plan to be effective, the Renaissance Academy needs your cooperation.
In the event that sheltering is directed
- Students will remain within the school building they attend.
- Student dismissal will be delayed until the directive is lifted.
- Dismissal times will be announced by radio.
- *Please Do Not Attempt To Pick Up Your Children at the school because it is important to remain inside if directed to shelter.
- No student will be dismissed into the Emergency Planning Zone until the emergency is over and/or parents can assume responsibility.
In the event that evacuation is directed
- Students will be safely transported to a "HOST" school district.
- The "host" school district is West Chester. Students will be transported to the Stetson Middle School, located on Route 202, just south of West Chester, PA.
- Parents or legal guardians are requested to pick up their children at the "host" school.
- Please do not attempt to pick up your children at the Renaissance Academy. It is important that school driveways and access are kept clear for evacuation purposes. In addition, it is difficult to keep a current and accurate school census while preparing to evacuate.
- During the entire process, the students will remain under the supervision of the school staff. Meals will be provided for the students.
- Students will only be released to parents, legal guardians or individual having prior approval (see attached authorization form). It is vital that you return the accompanying authorization form for our files.
- After 8:00 p.m., if students remain to be picked up, they will be transported to a mass care center operated the American Red Cross. Students will continue to be supervised until parents arrive at the facility. Their designated mass care center is Downingtown East High School on Route 113 in Lionville, PA.
- Do not rush, drive safely. The "host" and "mass care center" schools are located near designated evacuation routes.
Important emergency information can be located in the public service sections of the telephone book. Emergency Information will also be broadcast over WGMP 1201 AM, WPHE 690 AM and WCOJ 1420 AM.
In the event that a Site Area Emergency is declared at the Limerick Generating Station prior to 6:00 a.m. on a school day, the Renaissance Academy will cancel school for the day. The situation will be monitored to determine when school will reopen. The public will be advised through the normal process.
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