Chapter 19.1


What are Charter Schools, and how many Students Attend?

Through our daily emails, we’ve discussed several aspects of education funding and have noted some of the largest areas of annual cost growth in school district budgets. One of those areas of significant annual cost growth for many school districts is charter school tuition.

While we’ll dive deeper into the charter school tuition calculation for determining both the regular and special education tuition rates later this week, we’ll start with a basic recap.

There are two types of charter schools: brick and mortar charter schools and cyber charter schools. Both are public schools, and both are funded via tuition paid by the school district of residence of each student attending the charter school. Brick and mortar charter schools are authorized by the school districts in which they are located, and cyber charter schools are authorized by the PA Department of Education. All charter schools are funded locally by school districts.

Since the passage of the charter school law in 1997, the number of charter schools and the number of students attending charter schools has grown. There are now about 177 charter schools educating just under 135,000 students.

Click on the image link below to view our interactive Infogram illustrating the changes in the number of charter school students (enrollment) from year to year.


The number of charter school students in each school district varies across the commonwealth. In some school districts, the percentage of total school district ADMs attending a charter school is very low; however, in some school districts, nearly 10% or more of the total ADMs are charter school students. Click here for a refresher on the concept of ADMs.

Click on the map below to view the number of charter school ADMs in each school district and the percentage of the total school district ADMs that this represents.