High Expectations and Unique Challenges: Tools for Today’s Charter Schools
Charter schools are becoming an increasingly popular option for parents and guardians around the country. They are specifically selected by families who make the choice to not send their children to community or neighborhood schools. Charter schools don’t charge tuition, but charter schools don’t fall in line with the normal funding or regulatory protocol of their fellow public schools within the same public school districts.
We have a lot to learn from charter schools. Their need to limit their liability, and to communicate easily in emergencies and in day-to-day operations are not different from any other school, public or private. But their unique position in the education landscape provides ample opportunity for the companies that serve them to address their challenges and needs.
There are an estimated 6,900 charter schools in America, with a presence in nearly every state. Attendance over the last 16 years has grown roughly sixfold to an estimated 2.8 million students. While hundreds of charter schools have closed due to low enrollment, poor performance or finances, new schools are opening at a faster rate than those closures. About one-third of the nation’s charter schools are owned and operated by organizations, nonprofit and for-profit, that manage multiple schools.
Clearly, the growth in student enrollment nationwide signals that charter schools are here to stay, and an increasingly popular choice for families.
Charter Schools Investment Conundrum
In the vast majority of cases, the public tax dollars that would fund a K-12 student’s education in their local school follows them to the charter school of their choosing. Unlike private schools, charter schools don’t charge tuition so they cannot raise funds for necessities or desires the way private schools can. Like other public schools, charter schools cannot discriminate against a potential student based on race, gender, religious affiliation or test scores. But there are some major differences.
Charter schools serve more black and Hispanic children than non-charter schools.
Certain charter schools may have been established to serve a pressing need, such as economic disparities in a community, a lack of STEM-focused education in an area that wants it, the desire for more religious education from a secular standpoint, or classes in the arts.
Another key difference is that while a school district might make informational technology decisions that will be regulated and mandated to each of the schools in its district, a charter school might not be beholden to those decisions. A charter school might be governed by a nonprofit group, or a set of parents and community members.
Companies like Regroup Mass Notification work with charter schools, and the organizations that run several charter schools, to make sure their communications technology is simple, cost-effective and keeps the entire school community — from teachers to students and parents — safe and informed.
Charter schools that are managed by an umbrella organization might have locations in several different areas, even very far apart. A tornado warning that might impact one school might be hundreds of miles away from another. An active shooter event would need to be quickly communicated with one school, but would needlessly alarm the community nowhere near it. At the same time, notifications letting parents know about scholarship opportunities or report cards would need to be sent out to the whole community, no matter where they are.
We understand this is a highly selective community that has high expectations of their schools and the companies that serve those schools.
Our 360 Accelerator Experience
In 2019, Regroup launched a strategic and important partnership with 360 Accelerator, a California-based non-profit organization working to improve educational quality for all by strengthening public education options and investing in charter school leadership. Through the partnership, we provide our cloud-based software platform to schools that are part of the 360 Accelerator network, which currently serves serves nearly 15,000 charter school students throughout inland and rural California.
The area 360 Accelerator serves has struggled with many socioeconomic and environmental hardships. Regroup is able to provide a significant discount on our mass notification platform in order to serve their needs and extend our services to thousands of students and their families seeking a higher level of public education.
Key Features of Regroup in K-12 Schools
- Schools can easily communicate with multiple departments, facilities or select recipients, from parents to teachers
- Schools can automate weather alerts to the right schools based on their geographical location. We work with the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS), NOAA, National Weather System (NWS), ShakeAlert for early earthquake warnings, and more
- An unlimited number of admins can communicate with it entire network from computers or mobile device
- Non-technical employees can send notifications using a customizable and easy-to-use interface
High Expectations that Deserve to Be Met
We know from our experience that the charter school experience, both inside the schools and inside the homes of the families that choose it, is special and unique. The challenge is how to address those unique attributes, while meeting and exceeding the high expectations of the parents and other stakeholders in the school.
We do that through constant innovation, and working hand-in-hand with charter schools and the organizations that operate them. By understanding their needs and recognizing that students, teachers, staff, parents and the community need to be kept safe and well-informed at all times, we can deliver a mass notification system that is responsive and effective.