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Charter Application Process

NEW: The Indiana Charter School Board ("ICSB") is in the process of revising its application process to move to a more flexible, "rolling" submission calendar. Once the revised policy has been finalized, specific information will be made available on this page. Until then, please direct any questions about the charter application process or timeline to: charter-applications@icsb.in.gov.

Prior to starting the application process, all applicants should familiarize themselves with ICSB’s vision, mission, and guiding principles, and review ICSB's Charter Application FAQ. ICSB’s mission is to authorize and hold accountable a portfolio of high-performing charter schools in which students achieve high levels of growth and graduate prepared for college and careers.Each application is carefully evaluated for alignment with ICSB’s core principles and compliance with Indiana's Charter Law. All Charter Application decisions are made by the nine (9) appointed members of the ICSB.

1. Submission of Letter of Intent

The application process begins with the submission of a non-binding Letter of Intent (“LOI”). The LOI asks for basic information about the proposal, including the type of submission, name and location of the proposed school and contact information. ICSB uses the information provided to confirm the application type and for scheduling purposes. Prospective applicants should email LOIs : charter-applications@icsb.in.gov.

2. Submission of Application

Once a LOI has been received by ICSB Staff, the applicant group's designated representative will be sent specific information about the application submission process, including a timeline and confirmation of which Charter School Application the applicant should submit:

Charter School Application for New School Operators - for applicants who have not previously operated a charter school and are not planning to contract with an Education Service Provider (“ESP”) for comprehensive education management services. An ESP is defined as a “for profit education management organization, nonprofit charter management organization, school design provider, or any other partner entity with which a charter school intends to contract for educational design, implementation, or comprehensive management.”

Charter School Application for Experienced Operators - for applicants who either: (a) have previously operated a charter school or charter schools; or (b) have not previously operated a charter school but intend to contract with an ESP for comprehensive management services.

Charter School Application for a Change in Authorizer - for applicants who operate an existing charter school that is not authorized by ICSB. There are two types of change in authorizer requests: 1) a request from a school in good standing who has not received a notice of termination or nonrenewal of the school's charter agreement from the school’s current authorizer; and 2) a request from a school who has received notice of termination or nonrenewal of the school's charter agreement by the school’s current authorizer. The latter request requires additional approval from the Indiana State Board of Education.

Charter School Application for Currently Operating Non-Charter Schools - for applicants who are the governing body of a currently operating school that is not a charter school, including a (district) innovation network school, an accredited private school, or a nonaccredited private school. Schools that have been in operation less than three (3) years should contact ICSB to inquire as to eligibility.

Charter School Application for Replication of an Existing School - for applicants currently operating a high-performing charter school who are seeking to "replicate" the school's educational model in a different geographic location. The existing school does not need to be authorized by ICSB in order to submit a Replication Application.

Other Requests - In addition, ICSB has policies and procedures in place for Charter Mergers, Charter Splits, and Expansions. Please email charter-applications@icsb.in.gov for more information.

3. Evaluation

Once a completed Application has been received, an evaluation team consisting of ICSB staff and at least two (2) third-party, independent evaluators with charter school expertise, conducts an evaluation of the Application based on three primary areas of plan development:

  • Evidence of Capacity: Evidence that the governing board possesses the knowledge, skills, and commitment needed to actively and effectively oversee a successful charter school, including monitoring and holding accountable an ESP, if applicable; evidence of the qualifications of the school’s leadership/management team.
  • Education Plan: Evidence that the education plan, including the curriculum, instructional practices, and use of student assessments, is rigorous, data-driven, reflects the needs of the school’s target population, and will ensure all students meet or exceed the expectations of Indiana’s College and Career Ready Academic Standards; a demonstrated understanding of – and capacity to fulfill – all state and federal obligations and requirements pertaining to serving students, including students with disabilities, english language learners, and other special student populations.
  • Business Plan: Evidence of need and/or demand for the proposed school; evidence of community engagement, including local partnerships; a solid plan to market, recruit, and enroll students; a facility and staffing plan; and a complete, realistic, and viable start-up and five-year operating budget that aligns with the educational and organizational plans described in the Application.

For experienced operators, applicants proposing to contract with an ESP, applicants seeking to change authorizers, and existing schools seeking a new or replication charter, the evaluation also examines the applicant or ESP’s prior and/or current academic, financial, and organizational performance, including reference checks with other authorizers and/or state and local educational agencies, as appropriate.

4. Capacity Interview

Once the internal evaluation is complete, the applicant group will be invited to participate in a ninety (90) minute in-person or virtual capacity interview to discuss any questions and concerns raised by the application and to further assess the applicant's capacity to implement the proposed program effectively.  Applicants must provide a list of attendees and their role prior to the interview. During or following the interview, ICSB may ask for additional information to clarify or support answers given in the capacity interview.

5. Public Hearing

As required by Indiana law, ICSB will host a public hearing (usually within the school corporation in which the proposed school would be located). The purpose of the public hearing is for ICSB staff to receive comments from community members about the proposal, it is not a question and answer session with ICSB staff or the applicant. In addition to, or in lieu of, attending a public hearing, ICSB opens a period of time within which community members can submit public comments via email (to: charter-applications@icsb.in.gov).  All public comments are transcribed and combined with any emails into a single document which is provided to ICSB board members as part of their decisionmaking process.

6. Board Meeting

Based on the submitted application, capacity interview and public comment(s), ICSB staff creates a recommendation for Indiana Charter School Board Members. At least one day prior to the ICSB Board Meeting, ICSB staff will contact the designated representative for each applicant group to inform them of the staff recommendation for the proposed school. At this time, the applicant group may choose to “withdraw” its application from consideration which means that, while ICSB board members have been provided with a copy of the staff recommendation for the school, no discussion or vote will occur with respect to the application. Applicants who withdraw because the staff recommendation is declination or who are declined by the ICSB board are free to reapply in a later application cycle or to another authorizer.

During the meeting, ICSB board members conduct a question and answer session with each applicant group, hear ICSB staff recommendations, and hold individual votes whether to approve or decline each application. Following the meeting, all decisions of the ICSB board are posted on the ICSB website. The ICSB meeting is open to the public and streamed live over the internet.