Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charter school?

A charter school is an independent public school granted a charter by the local or state educational authority to focus on a particular mission. Creative Arts’ charter is granted, overseen, and reviewed every five years by the San Francisco Board of Education with the mandate to provide innovative project-based and arts-integrated education to students from under-served communities. We operate within and are a part of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

How are charters different from other public schools?

Charters have autonomy in three key areas: curriculum development, financial management, and staffing. Creative Arts is governed by a Board of Directors and is answerable directly to the SF Board of Education, rather than to the Superintendent and SFUSD. While CACS is free to create its own curriculum, it is also measured by the same state standards and student testing. Our teachers are members of a union, and they are all state certified.

How is CACS Governed?

CACS is governed by a Board of Directors, the majority of whom are parents directly elected by the membership. The Board’s operations are guided by the school’s bylaws.

How are charters funded?

Like San Francisco Unified School District, charter schools receive per pupil funding. Charter school funding, however, lags behind that for traditional public schools. A 2012 report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) summarized the funding inequities, noting a difference of at least 7%, or $395 per student, for categorical funding between California charter schools and traditional public schools. This does not include facility funding, federal funding, or local revenues, which often widen the funding gap.

Because of this situation, along with five years of budget cuts from the state, the cost of our program far exceeds funding from the state. We rely on extended community financial support to make up the difference.

How do students and families enroll in a charter school?

Charters are open to all and offer spaces at random through an independent admissions lottery. This lottery is separate from the main SFUSD lottery, but the two run in parallel. The CACS lottery is conducted with oversight by an SFUSD representative. To learn more about enrollment, please visit How to Apply.

For more information on charter schools, please visit the Charter Schools Development Centerand California Charter Schools Association.

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