Other Alternatives

Option, magnet, focus, contract, and innovation schools are all different types of tuition-free public schools that can serve as a quality alternative to traditional public schools.

Option schools (sometimes called “magnet” or “focus” schools) are free public schools of choice that provide a special focus or educational program. Unlike charter schools, option schools are run by the school district.

Most option schools do not have an attendance area, and all students must open enroll into the school. Some option schools are also neighborhood schools. When an option school is a neighborhood school, students living in the attendance area may attend the school. Students who do not live in the attendance area must open enroll into the school.

Contract schools are independent public schools that are not operated by the school district. The school’s operator signs a contract with the local Board of Education to provide an educational program. All students must open enroll into contract schools.

Innovation schools have requested and received waivers from state laws and collective bargaining agreements in order to achieve greater school autonomy and flexibility in academic and operational decision-making.

Education Policy Center Resources:

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