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Charter Schools At A Glance

When did Charter Schools become an option in South Carolina?

Charter schools in South Carolina date to 1996, which is when the State Charter School Law was enacted.

Charter schools must have an authorizer in order to operate.

How many authorizing options are there in South Carolina? Currently, there are three authorizing options in South Carolina: a traditional school district, the South Carolina Public Charter School District, or an Institution of Higher Education (added in 2012).

When was the SCPCSD created?

The legislature created the SCPCSD during the 2006 legislative session with a mission of being an authorizer of new public charter schools and an authorizer for public charter schools that need to transfer from a local public school district for whatever reason. In addition, the SCPCSD was designed to house state-wide full-time virtual learning. After a year of planning, the first schools opened for school year 2008-2009.

How big is the SCPCSD?

While the district started out serving 2,000 students at five schools, we now serve 20,000 students at 34 schools.

How is the funding different for SCPCSD?

Over the years, charter school advocates have fought for and been successful in convincing the legislature to incrementally increase funding for charter schools in the SCPCSD. Since local money does not follow the child in South Carolina, the legislature appropriates additional dollars through an annual budget proviso to help with the money disparity. That amount is currently $3,500 per pupil for brick-and-mortar schools and $1,900 for virtual schools. These per pupil allotments also apply to budget requests made by an IHE authorizing charter schools.


There is no funding formula for charter schools in South Carolina. The SCPCSD and IHEs must make an annual budget request to the legislature to receive funding.


SCPCSD’s mission is to improve student learning and increase learning opportunities in South Carolina through the creation of innovative, high-quality charter schools. Ultimately, we strive to assist South Carolina in achieving academic excellence.


What is a charter school?

Tuition-free public schools, charter schools operate in South Carolina on a ten-year contract called a “charter.” Charter Schools have flexibility from many education regulations and are governed by individual school boards. Charter Schools provide educators with flexibility to operate different types of public schools that focus on specific missions, including:

  • Performing Arts
  • Technology
  • Montessori
  • Dual-Credit
  • Project Based Learning
  • Cyber Learning
  • Dual Language Instruction