Every student is unique, with different needs and talents. That's why, instead of a "one size fits all" approach, City Schools offers a "portfolio" of schools with different structures and programs. Students and families can choose the type of school that's the best fit for them. Each year, we review the portfolio to make sure there are high-quality options across the city.
Most elementary school students attend neighborhood schools — that is, schools in their "attendance zones." Some schools with elementary grades also offer grades 6 to 8, so many middle school students stay in their neighborhood schools until they're ready for high school. Find your neighborhood school.
Charter schools are public schools that all students can choose to attend, regardless of where they live in the city. Each has a charter, or performance contract, detailing its program, goals and methods of assessment. For example, charter schools may have a particular approach to instruction, focus on an instructional theme, or serve particular populations.
Charter schools are run by outside entities with increased autonomy in many areas of decision making. In return, they are accountable to the authorizer that grants the charter (in Baltimore's case, City Schools), the parents who choose to send their children to the school, and the public that funds them. Charter schools are also governed by Maryland law.
The district also has two schools run under contracts with outside entities. Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School is run under contract with the Johns Hopkins University; Bard High School Early College is run under contract with Bard College.
These secondary schools are operated by independent education entities, and each has a specific theme and a unique curriculum that focuses on college, career, or alternative programming.
Before the state charter law was passed, Baltimore City opened small schools that had autonomy in hiring, finance, and instructional focus and practice, with increased accountability. Most of these schools have become charter schools, but New Song Academy continues as a New School Initiative school.
When the severity or nature of students' disabilities affects their performance and academic success within their community-based school setting, placement in a separate public day school may be appropriate, as determined by an Individualized Education Program team. City Schools' separate public day schools provide programming, facilities, and specialized staff to meet students' needs.
We know that circumstances outside of school can make attending a traditional school difficult for some students, while some students thrive in settings that offer specific supports. Alternative schools and programs help these students succeed academically and graduate ready for college or career training.