Class is already in session for students at NYOS Charter School. The school’s curriculum is on a year-round schedule. That's just one way it’s not like a traditional public school.
"So at NYOS we focus on small class sizes because we believe that the individual student is very important," said Kathleen Zimmermann, the school’s executive director.
The average class size for an elementary class is 18 students, and in high school, classes are as small as 10 to 12 students.
"What we can do when there are a small number of students in the class is the teacher can then focus on what each individual needs and take them from where they are and move forward,” Zimmermann said. “So, instead of teaching to a general mean, they can teach each individual student and bring them along from wherever they may start."
Individualized instruction is exactly what many parents are looking for when they sign up their child at NYOS.
"The things about charter schools is each one is different, so you have to do some research to find out which one might be most beneficial and work best," Zimmermann said.
Of the hundreds of charter schools in Texas, each one has its own target goals.
Some are created to focus on drop-out recovery. Others are college prep heavy, and some even have religious ties.
"Parents who don't understand the choices they have will just blindly go to their local public school, and in a majority of cases the local public school is a good choice,” Zimmermann said. “There are cases where it's not, and every parent needs to sort out, based on what their individual child's needs are, which school is best for them."
Schools like NYOS are funded by the state, but they receive significantly less funding than traditional public schools. They also don't receive funds for facilities or transportation. That means parents often have to chip in with car pools or volunteering to make up the difference.
Parents say this creates a sense of community among families.
"Parental involvement is the single biggest key in getting kids excited about learning, and learning and being active in our society," said parent Matt Lasater.
Like traditional public schools, charter schools are free, however there's a lottery to get in. Schools like NYOS have more than 1,500 people on the waiting list.
"I think it's one of the luckiest days I've had in my life when Jack was admitted," Lasater said.
They don't have enough students to create as many extracurricular sports teams and clubs, but Lasater said that didn't deter him for choosing the best option for his family.
"At the end of the day, to me school is about getting a good solid well-rounded education, and even with the limited resources charter schools have, they still go an excellent job of that," Lasater said.
Charter schools have the same requirements to meet state and national standards as traditional public schools. To learn more about charter school or to see what charter schools are available in your area, visit www.txcharterschools.org.