Our Process

We use a fair, rigorous, and equitable process to review proposals for public charter schools pursuant to section 118.40(2x) and 1180.40(3m) of Wisconsin Statutes, including the principals and standards from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Proposal Standards and Review Criteria

The Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) recognizes the tremendous public trust and responsibility it carries to authorize taxpayer funding for a school, and most importantly for parents to trust a school to care for and educate their children. We also recognize the unacceptable gaps in educational opportunities for Wisconsin kids and the need for new approaches.

To advance any proposal through our review process, it must increase educational equity by providing students with access to educational innovations or incubating existing educational practices in innovative ways. While we do not have an exact definition of “innovation,” potential applicants should consider the Ten Leaps for Equitable 21st Century Learning from Transcend Education.

Questions Asked When Reviewing a Charter School Proposal

OEO subscribes to the Department of Public Instruction’s definition of educational equityTo increase educational equity, a proposed educational model should help close Wisconsin’s achievement gap by serving at-risk students or other underserved populations including students of color and low-income families.  

Is there a need in the proposed community for new educational opportunities, and is there a demand (especially from the population the school intends to serve) for the educational model being proposed?    

Need refers to the reason(s) or evidence that existing schools are insufficient or inadequate. Demand refers to interest from prospective families to attend the proposed school.

To demonstrate a need and demand for a school, an applicant should be prepared to share:  

  • Information on existing schools and types of educational programs available
  • Current and projected demographic information;  
  • Characteristics of proposed students and families; 
  •  Measures of actual interest (which could include letters of support, survey information, sign-in data from interest meetings) and how you have gained this data  

Is the proposed academic model likely to provide innovative, high-quality learning opportunities that improve student outcomes and meet that need and demand?

An innovative educational model does at least one of the following:  

  •  Increases quality learning opportunities for all students;   
  •   Uses different and innovative teaching methods (relative to what kids currently can access) 
  •  Establishes new forms of accountability for a school and/or measures of outcomes; or  
  • Creates new professional opportunities for teachers 

Is the group or team proposing the school prepared to execute on the model and govern, administer, and financially manage the school to effectively serve all kids?

Proposal and Review Process

The process to start a new charter school consists of several stages from the proposal to school opening: 

  1. An “intent to apply” notice using our contact form 
  2. Phase 1 prospectus proposal; 
  3. Phase 2 proposal; 
  4. A review by the OEO Advisory Council*, which may include:
    1. requests for additional information; 
    2. an in-person interview with the applicants and the advisory council;  
  5. A final recommendation to the UW System President  
  6. Contract negotiations;  
  7. Board of Regents approval of a final contract; and 
  8. Completion of pre-opening requirements defined in the contract. 

An applicant who is not successful at any stage will not be invited to a further stage, but could potentially apply in a future proposal cycle. 

*OEO convenes an Advisory Council to make recommendations related to charter school authorizing under its statutory authority. OEO will publish the names of the current Advisory Council members and their consensus recommendation of a proposal once the review process is complete. If you are interested in participating, please complete the Advisory Council Interest form. 

2020 Proposal Information

OEO’s 2020 proposal process intends to align with the timing and requirements from the UW Board of Regents for approving a new charter school, and the Department of Public Instruction to:

Anyone or group interested in potentially submitting a proposal for an independent public charter school authorized by OEO, must submit an intent to apply form before submitting a Phase 1 proposal

Note this is NOT an evaluation but assists OEO with planning and background to understand the proposal in its appropriate context and to discuss any potential modifications to the application timeline.

Phase I proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis from May-October, 2020. Phase II proposals are due November 1. OEO intends to provide final decisions by December. OEO will evaluate requests to modify deadlines on an individual basis.

Proposal Phases

Phase 1 Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis from May through October, 2020. OEO will review Phase 1 proposals and provide a written response within three weeks that includes a:

  1. Completed Phase 1 Rubric; and
  2. OEO determination as to whether the proposal is denied or approved for a Phase 2 submission.  

All Phase 2 proposals are due by November 1st, 2020. OEO intends to provide final decisions by December. 

Proposal is due: November 1st, 2020.

Phase II proposal should be emailed to oeo@uwsa.edu.

Contract Negotiations: Timing will vary by applicant.

For more information see UWSA’s Model Contractpdf .


Request for Proposal Responses

The Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) is committed to a transparent review process for the proposals it receives.  An OEO decision is not binding authority on any future decision. Each applicant is evaluated based on its unique content and context.

Proposals with OEO Response

List of Proposals Received

  • The Lincoln Academy (Beloit)
  • Prairie Hill Waldorf School (Madison)
  • Lake Country Academics Classical Academy (Dousman)
  • Isthmus Montessori (Madison)
  • One City Elementary School (Madison)
  • Arbor Community School (Monona)
  • Community Learning Design, Inc (Edgerton)
  • One City School Preparatory Academy (Madison)
  • Athlos Academy (West Allis)
  • Central Sands Community High School (Amherst)
  • Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum High School (Kenosha)
  • New Leaf Preparatory Academy (Howard-Suamico)
  • Sankofa Community Academy (Kenosha)
  • Ignite Academy (Madison)
  • UpGrade Media Arts Center (Pewaukee)
  • Adeline Montessori School (Waukesha)
  • Racine Scholars Academy (Racine)


For More Information

Contact us for further information about submitting a proposal, technical assistance, or meeting requests.

Contact Us