What is a charter school?
Charter schools are tuition-free, independent public schools that are open to all students and are governed and operated by licensed teachers, parents, and community members.
The first Minnesota charter school opened in 1991. There are currently more than 150 charter schools in the state, educating some 35,000 students. Charter schools are financed as part of the general K-12 education system, with per-pupil funding that parallels that of other public schools. Some charter schools teach a curriculum that specializes in a certain field—art, math, or language, for instance—or that follows an educational philosophy, as does Prairie Creek in its embrace of progressive principles.
At Prairie Creek we believe that our autonomy as a charter school invites innovation and creative rigor in our academic curriculum and assessments, and a unique culture of cooperation among our 180 students, their teachers, and parents.
Charter schools are accountable to an authorizer, which oversees and supports the school's program—in our case, the Northfield School District. Prairie Creek students take state-mandated exams, fulfill challenging academic requirements and goals, and demonstrate aptitude in a variety of subjects each year in order to renew the school's charter.
By law, charter schools in Minnesota can't own real estate. Prairie Creek's building is owned and operated by our landlord, Prairie Creek, Inc., which is responsible for providing a safe and accommodating schoolhouse and grounds.