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A charter school is a public school that offers a tuition-free education choice for families. Such schools are approved—or “chartered”—by a local school district, but parents from other school districts in the area may also send their child there. Charter schools teach much of the same core material as traditional public schools but are designed around a focus or theme. For example, one charter school may center its curriculum on foreign language study, while another may emphasize environmental science, technology, or the performing arts. And if a charter school delivers its curriculum online, then it’s known as a cyber charter school. These types of innovative curricula, focus, and delivery give charter schools the freedom to approach education in engaging, progressive ways to meet students’ needs, and they set charter schools apart from traditional public schools.  Some people think charter schools operate like private schools, but they don’t. Instead, they’re funded with the money allotted to students from their own home districts. In other words, when a student enrolls in a charter school, a portion (not the full amount) of the state-allotted funding follows that student to the charter school. Charter schools have existed here in Pennsylvania since 1997, when the state legislature approved Act 22.
The focus of Baden Academy’s charter is an arts integrated curriculum, which has two components. The first is that we’ve created a particularly strong arts department that includes weekly classes in theater, music, and visual art. The department also provides violin instruction beginning in first grade; multiple performance opportunities; a curriculum filled with engaging art, music, and theater history; and lessons that encourage self-expression and social awareness. The second part of the arts integrated curriculum is that our classroom teachers regularly incorporate the arts into their lessons, connecting the academic subjects of math, reading, science, and social studies to elements from the arts. Countless studies have shown this arts-based, interdisciplinary curriculum engages more students, strengthens understanding of concepts, encourages creativity, and provides meaningful opportunities for social and emotional development.  Baden Academy’s mission also includes a focus on science and helping students develop an understanding of and an appreciation for scientific processes. We offer a robust science fair unit and a unique Media Lab to promote high-level thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. We also offer weekly Spanish instruction for all students, include classical language and literature in our curriculum, and keep our class sizes smaller than any other elementary school in our region. For more information about the exceptional opportunities at Baden Academy, please watch the videos on our home page, read our mission statement, and look through the material under the “Academics” tab.
Charter school students in Pennsylvania take the same standardized assessments as students in traditional public schools, and those test scores are one way to hold charter school accountable. More importantly, however, charter schools like Baden Academy have a strong incentive to provide unique curriculum, high-quality experiences, and excellent teaching methods because we are schools of choice. In the end, therefore, it’s the choice of the families in our community that holds us the most accountable. For more information on the accountability and legalities of charter schools, please visit the website for the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools (www.pacharters.org) or the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (www.pde.state.pa.us).
Parents can enroll their child in a local public school district by filing the necessary paperwork. But it’s a little more complicated for charter schools for two reasons.

First, some charter schools are limited by their charter to a certain size—like a specific number of students in a classroom or grade level. Since the demand for charter schools often exceeds this available space, admission to the school may be held on the basis of a lottery. Second, some school’s charter allows for a selection process prior to acceptance. Students may have to audition (like they do at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in nearby Midland), or go through some other form of application. This kind of selection process is typically for charter schools that begin at a middle school or high school level. 
At Baden Academy, we use the first system—a lottery system—and we encourage those families who understand and value our unique, creative mission to consider our school. For more information, please click on the “Admissions” tab.