Start a Charter School

charter school students at computers

TCSA is a proud supporter of charter education and is excited that you have shown interest in starting an open-enrollment charter school. Texas currently needs more innovators that are passionate about improving access to quality educational opportunities for all students. Since 1995 when Texas lawmakers first launched public charter schools, one of the most significant education reforms in the state's history, charter schools have been charged with the duty to:

  1. improve student learning;
  2. increase the choice of learning opportunities within the public school system;
  3. create professional opportunities that will attract new teachers to the public school system;
  4. establish a new form of accountability for public schools; and
  5. encourage different and innovative learning methods.

Texas Education Code, Section 12.001.

This mission continues today with some of the very best charter schools in the nation currently operating in Texas. It is because of courageous people like you that the charter movement continues to grow and prosper making a difference in the lives of so many children in Texas. Your ambitious voyage to start an open enrollment charter school begins with the charter application. The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) is here to help you.

The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) is a nonprofit statewide membership organization representing effective currently operating charter schools of all types. It is important to not confuse TCSA with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) the governmental agency responsible for facilitating the charter application process.

Currently there is a cap (225; increasing to 305 by 2019) on the number of 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations in Texas that can operate open-enrollment charter schools. It is for this reason that applying for an open enrollment charter school is a highly competitive process. The Commissioner of Education is charged with the authorization of open enrollment charter schools, and receives input from the State Board of Education (SBOE) in that process. The SBOE has veto power on all proposals for award made by the Commissioner. It is important to know that there is no guarantee that the TEA will open a charter school application round every year.

The Nineteenth Generation Open-Enrollment Charter Guidelines and Request for Application (RFA) are now available to the public on the TEA website.

Applications for charter in response to the Nineteenth Generation RFA must be received on or before Thursday, March 27, 2014. Additional information pertaining to the completion and submission process is available within the contents of the RFA.

Additionally, the RFA states a requirement that one or more of the sponsoring entities board members attend one of the two Applicant Information Sessions scheduled on Friday, February 7, 2014 and Friday, March 7, 2014. Session details including the required preregistration form can be accessed on  TEA's website.

Applicants intending to apply as  nonprofit corporations exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code MUST have tax exempt status established and the determination letters from the Internal Revenue Service included in the application submissions. A 501(c)(3) determination letter must be submitted with the application in order for the application to be found complete.

TCSA recommends the following steps for applicants looking forward and intending to submit a Generation 19 Charter School Application, which is due on or before Thursday, March 27, 2014:

  1. Potential applicants should start reviewing the TEA website for charter school information and alerts. This will get you familiar with the requirements for obtaining and operating a charter. You can never start too early! Applying for a charter school is a lengthy process.
  2. Establish a non-profit organization and secure tax exemption from the IRS under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. These two steps can take a considerable amount of time, up to nine months, so it is essential to get started early. We encourage you to identify board members who will be capable of overseeing the management of a robust and multi-faceted organization.
  3. Review the Historically Awarded Applications for Texas open enrollment charter schools. Reviewing successful applications may provide you a good sense of what quality applications have looked like in the past. Note that the application made available for Generation 19 submissions includes questions and prompts that are significantly different from past years.  Far more detail is requested, and the new evaluation criteria are aligned to meet the new form. Keep in mind that TEA’s new plagiarism requirements clearly set out that any applicant that violates the plagiarism policy, including copying from a previous charter application, will immediately be disqualified from the process.
  4. Assemble a Strong Planning Team. You should start to assemble a planning team for responding to the application questions and required appendices. Generally, preparing and submitting a complete and compelling charter school application takes several months of planning and development. If your team is not ready, consider starting today so that you can submit a strong application in a future cycle.
  5. Watch one of our recorded webinars. You can review a previous webinar covering the basics of opening a charter school in Texas, as well as setting up your 501(c) 3 by visiting the Network website.
  6. Plan to attend the Texas Education Agency (TEA) mandatory Charter Applicant Information Session. The required Applicant Information Sessions are scheduled on Friday, February 7, 2014 and Friday, March 7, 2014. Session details including the required preregistration form can be accessed on TEA's website. Attendance is only required at one of the sessions. At least one member of the governing board of the sponsoring entity requesting the charter must attend one of the required applicant conferences. Although not required, it is recommended that the application preparer also attend an applicant conference. If a board member of the non-profit does not attend this meeting. TEA will not accept a Generation 19 Charter School Application from the developing group.
  7. Attend a beginner training session hosted by TCSA on starting a charter school. This training is for potential applicants during the Generation 19 cycle or those considering a Generation 20 submission. This training is designed to provide attendees with competitive advice for completing the best application possible.
  8. Let TCSA support  you in the development of a competitive application! Take a look at our Charter Start Consulting Services below and let us give you a competitive advantage as we invest in your human capital. Our services are proven and will give your team a strong foundation during the process and prepare the way for a long-term relationship that will result in quality benefits for years to come.
  9. Finally, TCSA recommends that you add your name to our newsletter distribution list so that you can read our Friday weekly newsletter. This will keep you in the loop on all things charter school in Texas. Simply type in your email in our TCSA Newsletter signup tool located on the upper right side of this page.

TCSA's CharterStart Consulting Services - Enroll Today!

Let TCSA's Network of Experts Support You in the Generation 19 Application Process - New Process Now In Place Since SB2 Passage So Let Us Help Your Team Understand the Landscape!

The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) is excited to announce the opening of its updated 2013-2014 Charter School Startup Support Services. These fee-based services are launched for the benefit of organizations seeking to compete and apply for a Generation 19 open-enrollment charter school from the Commissioner of Education.

Applying for an open-enrollment charter school is an exciting and challenging process. Completing the process successfully requires a sound plan, attention to detail, fortitude, creativity, and down-right hard work. Let TCSA's team of charter school experts help you from the start, guiding you to develop the best application possible for presenting your vision to the Commissioner of Education and the SBOE.

While TCSA cannot guarantee that your application will be selected by the Commissioner of Education, your organization's participation in TCSA's Charter School Startup Support Services is certain to make your charter school application as competitive as possible. TCSA's services will prepare you for the competition.

TCSA's Charter School Startup Consulting Services are broken into three service categories - slots are limited on each and we reserve the right to be selective to present the strongest candidates possible - so do not delay:

  • CHARTER APPLICATION REVIEW SERVICE - TCSA's  team of charter school experts review your near final independently drafted application for completeness, accuracy, and competitiveness, guiding you to make critical revisions and improvements needed to ensure the best application.
  • CHARTER APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT SERVICE - In this full service process, TCSA's charter school experts work with the charter hopeful in a series of one-on-one trainings and application development sessions to help the applicant create the best application possible.
  • CHARTER APPLICANT SBOE INTERVIEW PREP SERVICE - TCSA's team of charter school experts breaks down the dos and don'ts of the interview process. We provide you with the best in class support for your team to prepare a compelling message for your final stage in the charter application process.

 To enroll TODAY, contact Laura Kelly, Director of Quality at and give your team the strongest competitive advantage working alongside the experienced team at TCSA and our extensive network.