The Academy of Tucson began as a private school in August of 1986. Thirteen years later, in 1999, it became an Arizona Charter School. According to Arizona’s Attorney General, Arizona Charter Schools are public schools. By chartering, The Academy of Tucson became a public school. Public schools, like The Academy of Tucson, are tuition free to parents and students. In Arizona public schools include Charter Schools and District Schools. District Schools serve students in a specific geographic area, are a governmental entity and have a publicly elected school board.
Charter schools are schools of parent or student choice that serve students regardless of where they might live, are managed privately, and have a private Board of Governors not elected by the general public. An Arizona charter school is a privately operated school that has a “charter” or contract with the State of Arizona to provide educational service to students of grades K-12 for a fee which is paid by the State of Arizona. This fee is called equalization and is based upon the average per student expenditure for education in Arizona and is paid monthly by the State Treasurer to the School.
Charter schools were recognized in 1994 under Arizona Revised Statutes Chapter 15 Article 8 Sections 151-159. Charter schools were established to provide a learning environment that will improve pupil achievement. Charter schools provide additional academic choices for parents and pupils. Although charter schools must conform to all the academic accountability as district schools, charters have some discretionary freedoms not found in district schools. Charters are free to manage their employees without the number of specific laws that govern teachers in district schools. Charters are responsible for providing funding for their land and buildings and are prohibited from raising this money through taxes. Charter school boards are not publicly elected and not subject to the publicity and politics of district boards. All these factors and others allow charters much more flexibility in meeting the needs of parents and pupils yet retaining accountability to the public.