The CO Department of Education, in conjunction with the state Charter School Institute and the League of Charter Schools, hosted the annual Charter School Boot Camp. This is an intense, three-day workshop on how to write a charter school application. Some say it's like drinking from a fire hose. In fact, at the close of the first day, one of this year's participants said she walked in thinking she knew quite a bit about charter schools and was then feeling overwhelmed with all she didn't know.
The topics covered at Boot Camp are broad: vision/mission, curriculum, assessment, governance, employee relations, finance and budgeting, literacy, accountability, and lots of resources that are available for brand new charter applicants.
The website, startacoloradocharter.org, is the place to start. There are numerous links, via a flow chart, of all the different steps to starting a charter school. In addition, there are a number of best practice resources on the CDE website.
The purpose of the Boot Camp is also to give applicants an idea of who to contact with different questions. Presenters include staff from CDE, the League and the Charter School Institute (CSI). Additionally, leaders in the charter school community donate their time to help train these new charter applicants.
Boot Camp is designed to be overwhelming. But then starting a new charter school is also very overwhelming and it's only meant for the best prepared applicant. Not everyone who attends Boot Camp actually submits a charter school application. Boot Camp is designed to weed out the faint-hearted charter applicant.