Charter Schools: Does the state have any caps on the number of charter schools?

Charter Schools: Does the state have any caps on the number of charter schools?

January 2018

This resource contains information about the 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, with charter school laws. It does not contain any information for the six states that have not enacted charter school laws.

Please contact Micah Ann Wixom or with questions or comments about the database.

Does the state have any caps on the number of charter schools?
Alabama Yes. Authorizers may approve up to 10 start-up schools in a fiscal year. There is no limit on conversion charter schools. The cap of 10 schools expires April 1, 2020.

Citations: Ala. Code § 16-6F-6
Alaska No
Arizona No
Arkansas Yes. The department of education, the state board of education, or a combination of the two, may grant no more than 24 open-enrollment charter schools. If the number of approved charters is within two charters of the existing limitation or cap of available charters, the number of available charters must automatically increase by five slots.  

In addition, an open-enrollment public charter school cannot open in the service area of a public school district administratively reorganized under state law until after the third year of the administrative reorganization.

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 6-23-304
California Yes. The cap initially was set at 250 for the 1998-99 school year, but state law authorizes that limit to increase by 100 each successive year. 

Citations: Cal. Educ. Code § 47602
Colorado No
Connecticut No 

Citations: Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-66bb
Delaware No. A local school board may limit the number of new charter school applications it will consider in any year or the number of charters it will grant. However, the local school board must grant a public meeting to decide whether or not to consider the application within 20 working days after the last day of the year. 

Citations: Del. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 501; Del. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 511
District of Columbia Yes. 10 per year per authorizer. If one authorizer has not reached 10 approvals by the end of the year, other authorizers may approve up to 20 charter schools between the authorities.

Citations: D.C. Code Ann. § 38-1802.03
Florida No
Georgia No. However, the state board was authorized to approve only up to five petitions for charter systems (district-level charters) during fiscal year 2008, and is authorized to approve up to the maximum number of petitions in following years as may be established pursuant to board rules and as subject to availability of funding for implementation grants.

Citations: Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2063.2
Hawaii No
Idaho No
Illinois Yes. 120 total, and a maximum of 70 in Chicago with at least 5 charter schools exclusively for students from low-performing or overcrowded schools.

In addition, 5 or fewer charter schools for re-enrolled high school dropouts or students at risk of dropping out may operate at any one time in Chicago. Each such dropout charter may operate up to 15 campuses within the city. Any of these dropout charters may have a maximum of 1,875 enrollment seats, any one of the campuses of the dropout charter may have a maximum of 165 enrollment seats, and each campus of the dropout charter must be operated, through a contract or payroll, by the same legal entity as that for which the charter is approved and certified. 

Beginning on April 16, 2003 all new applications to establish a charter school in Chicago are limited to one campus (does not apply to schools established prior to that date).

No more than the other 45 charter schools may operate in the rest of state. One charter school initiated by a local school board (or by an intergovernmental agreement between local school boards) may operate per school district.  

Citations: 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/27A-4; 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/27A-5
Indiana No
Iowa Yes. Although there are no caps on the number of charter schools, the state board may approve no more than 10 innovation zone applications.

Citations: Iowa Code Ann. § 256F.3
Kansas No. However, the number of innovative districts is limited to 10% of the districts in the state (or between 10% and 20% if title 1 focus schools or title 1 priority schools).

Citations: Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72-1925
Kentucky No. Any authorizer may authorize an unlimited number of public charter schools within the boundary of the local school district. 

Citations: Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 160.1591
Louisiana No

Citations: La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:3983
Maine Yes. Until 2022, the commission may only approve 10 charters. Once the cap is reached, only local school boards and collaborative of local school boards may approve charters. The cap will be repealed automatically in 2022.

Citations: Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 20-A § 2405
Maryland No
Massachusetts Yes. 120 schools, with up to 48 reserved for Horace Mann charter schools and up to 72 reserved for commonwealth charter schools, not including charter schools in low-performing school districts. At least 2 charter schools must be located in districts where overall student performance on the statewide assessment system is in the lowest 10% statewide in the 2 years preceding the charter application. 

The state board may not approve a new commonwealth charter school in any community with a population of less than 30,000 unless it is a regional charter school. In any year, the state board of education may approve only 1 regional charter school located in a school district where overall student performance on the statewide assessment system is in the top 10% in the year preceding charter application.

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71 § 89

Yes. There is a cap of 15 and enrollment limitations on cyber charter schools.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.502
Minnesota No
Mississippi Yes. The state limit is 15 charter schools per fiscal year, with contract terms of 5 years.

Citations: Miss. Code Ann. § 37-28-7, § 37-28-21
Missouri No. However, charters schools may only be operated in the following areas:
  • A metropolitan school district.
  • An urban school district containing most or all of a city with a population greater than 350,000 inhabitants.
  • Unaccredited school districts.
  • Provisionally accredited districts under certain conditions.
  • School districts accredited without provisions, only if the charter school is sponsored by the local school board. If the accredited district's enrollment is 1,550 or greater, it cannot enroll more than 35% of its enrollment in charter schools it sponsors. 

Citations: Mo. Ann. Stat. § 160.400
Nevada No. There are limits on the number of achievement charter schools allowed under the Achievement School District, but these schools are generally not considered charter schools under the state's charter school laws.

Citations: Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388A.025; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388B.200
New Hampshire No
New Jersey No

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36A-3
New Mexico Yes. No more than 15 schools may open per year, and any remaining slots must be transferred to succeeding years. There is a cap of 75 schools in any 5-year period.

Charter School Districts: The department of education may not approve more than nine charter districts total: 3 small, 3 medium, and 3 large districts.

Citations: N. M. Stat. Ann. § 22-8B-11, N. M. Stat. Ann. § 22-8E-3
New York Yes. State law sets a limit of 460 charter schools. No more than 50 charters issued after July 1, 2015 can be granted for schools located in a city with a population of 1 million or more. Conversions and renewals do not count toward limits.

Citations: N.Y. Educ. Law § 2851, N.Y. Educ. Law § 2852
North Carolina No
Ohio Yes. Each authorizer, aside from the department of education, can sponsor up to 100 schools, although authorizers with an overall rating of exemplary for at least two consecutive years are not subject to the limit as long as they maintain their rating. The department may only approve up to 20 charter school applications per year, with only 5 new schools per year, for each of the 5 years following the effective date of amending legislation (February 2016).

New internet- or computer-based schools are capped at 5 each year. Enrollment growth in internet- or computer-based schools is limited to:
  • 15% for a school with enrollment the previous year of 3,000 or more students.
  • 25% for a school with enrollment the previous year of less than 3,000 students.

Prior to July 1, 2013, there was a moratorium on new internet- or computer-based schools unless they were open as of May 1, 2005.

Citations: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.013; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.015; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.029; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.20
Oklahoma Yes. In counties with a population of less than 500,000, the state board of education may sponsor up to 5 charter schools per year and no more than one charter school in a single district per year. In addition, charter schools sponsored by a school district must be located in the geographic boundaries of the sponsoring district. Technology center school districts and higher education institutions, including community colleges, may only sponsor charter schools if the charter school is located in a school district with a population of 500,000 or more.

Citations: Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 3-132, Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 3-134
Oregon No. However, if more than 3% of the students who reside in a school district are enrolled in virtual charter schools that are not sponsored by the district, a student who is a resident of the district must receive approval from the district before enrolling in a virtual charter school. If the district does not give approval, the district must provide information to the parent or legal guardian about the right to appeal the decision to the state board of education and other online options available to the student. 

Citations: Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 338.125
Pennsylvania No
Rhode Island Yes. No more than 35 charters can be granted in total, and at least one-half of the total number of charter public schools must be reserved for charter school applications that are designed to increase educational opportunities for at-risk pupils.

Citations: R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77-3.1
South Carolina No
Tennessee No  
Texas Yes. There is a limit on the number of new open enrollment charters that may be allowed, with the number increasing each year until 2018. Beginning in 2019 there will be a cap of 305 new open enrollment charters approved per year. There is not a cap on the number of university charter schools allowed. There is no limit for open-enrollment charter schools primarily serving students with a disability. 

Campus charter schools: Campus charter schools may not collectively enroll more than 15% of the district's enrollment during the preceding school year, with some exceptions.

Citations: Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.101; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.156; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.1014; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.0522
Utah No. However, the state board of education may approve an increase in charter school enrollment capacity, subject to the legislature appropriating funds for the increased capacity or authorizing the increase. The state board must also have rules governing the expansion of charter schools to establish a satellite campus or in cases when another charter school issues notices of closure.

Citations: Utah Code Ann. § 53A-1a-502.5
Virginia No. However, at least half of the public charter schools in a division should be for at-risk students, although that requirement does not apply to conversion schools. 

Citations: Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-212.11
Washington Yes.  A maximum of 40 charter schools may be established over a 5-year period, starting in 2016. No more than 8 charter schools may be established in any year. However, if fewer than 8 schools are established in any one year, the number of schools remaining from the 8-school limit may be established in subsequent school years during the 5-year period. 

Citations: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.710.150
Wisconsin Yes, but there are only caps on the number of charter schools that specific authorizers may oversee. 

Citations: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.40
Wyoming No

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