What is a charter school? Charter schools are public schools of choice. Students can decide to attend a charter school as an alternative to the district public school to which they have been assigned. The first enactment of charter school enabling legislation was in Minnesota in 1991. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 44 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam have charter laws; 3.2 million students are enrolled in 7,000 charter schools nationwide; and there are 219,000 teachers teaching in charter schools. The first charter schools opened in Maine in 2012. A ten-school limit was placed on the number of schools the Commission is able to authorize. There are approximately 2,700 students attending charter schools in Maine. Maine charter schools are publicly funded schools, created and governed by volunteers in a nonprofit organization, and operated independently of the traditional public school system. Charter schools have some flexibility that traditional public schools may not have over decisions concerning curriculum and instruction, scheduling, staffing and finance. In return for this flexibility, charter schools re held accountable to the terms of contracts (their charters) that authorize their existence. In addition, they must adhere to all applicable federal laws, health and safety laws, and the same academic standards to which all public schools are accountable. The Maine Charter School Commission authorizes and oversees Charter Schools in Maine.