A charter school is a publicly funded, independent school established by teachers, parents or community groups under the terms of a written grant. El Paso County is home to 33 of these schools, according to the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Models range from classical curricula to specialization by student groups or mission, such as gifted students, language immersion or entrepreneurship. Here’s a sampling of local offerings. Find more info and charter schools on public school district websites and at coloradoleague.org.
Academy for Advanced Creative Learning (D11)
Gifted K-8 students learn in multi-age divisions rather than age-based grades. Recipient of John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award 2019.
Banning Lewis Academy (D-49)
Fostering intellectual curiosity and exposing K-12 students to diverse cultures with a balance in fine arts, technology and character development.
The Classical Academy (D-20)
The largest K-12 charter school in Colorado enrolls more than 3,800 students on three campuses in seven programs, including a hybrid online school that offers early college opportunities with Pikes Peak Community College.
Colorado Military Academy, (Charter School Institute, D-11)
Expanding to K-12, this school emphasizes a high-tech STEM curriculum, moral character and military leadership development. Plus it has a plane for flight instruction.
Colorado Springs Early Colleges (Charter School Institute)
This high school blends college-level courses, so students can earn an associate degree or higher.
Global Village Academy (D-11)
K-8 students spend half of each day in language immersion in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, French or German.
James Irwin Charter Elementary, Middle and High Schools (D-2)
Serving nearly 2,000 students in five schools on three campuses, the network prioritizes rigorous instruction, scholarship and character.
Launch High School (Charter School Institute)
An innovative, academic environment acting as an incubator for entrepreneurship.
Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning (D-49)
Following an Expeditionary Learning model, the Falcon area Pre-K-8 school promotes hands-on, interdisciplinary learning and character development.
Thomas MacLaren School (Charter School Institute)
The K-12 school emphasizes rigorous academics, and uniquely uses single-sex classes, original texts and Socratic seminars in its upper school. Recipient of John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award 2017.
The Vanguard School (D-12)
Ranked the No. 1 Colorado Springs Metro High School and No. 3 Colorado High School by U.S. News and World Report in 2019, Vanguard teaches a classical, liberal arts, college-preparatory curriculum for K-12.