Kansas parents, like parents everywhere, want to be able to choose a school where their child will learn and thrive. Finding the best school fit starts with knowing your options. There are a variety of school environments (six in total!) available for students in the Sunflower State.
Most children in Kansas (and in America) attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. Did you know that Kansas spends an average of $11,753 per public school student each year?
Some school districts in Kansas may allow open enrollment. Open enrollment refers to whether you can send your child to a public school other than the one assigned to you. Since districts set their own open enrollment polices in Kansas, parents should check with their local school district for more information. If this is an option for you, take advantage of it by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you.
Depending on where you live in Kansas, you may also be able to choose a public charter school. Kansas has 10 public charter schools, you can find a list of them on this page.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that operate within a district but have extra freedom and independence to innovate. Public charter schools are accountable to their authorizer (which could be a college or school board) for student achievement. Because charter schools are public, there is generally no special requirement for admission… anyone can attend! If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, an old-fashioned lottery system is usually used to determine admittance.
Magnet schools are a third type of free public school. Magnet schools allow kids to focus on specific themes, like science or the performing arts. As the Wichita Public School district describes, “Magnet schools are based on the premise that all students do not learn in the same ways, so if there is a unifying theme or a different organizational structure for students of similar interest, those students will learn more in all areas.” In the Wichita district, there are 17 elementary magnet school locations and seven middle, high, and K-8 magnet locations, and there are others throughout the state. These might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing in on a subject he or she is passionate about.
Families in Kansas can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Kansas’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Kansas’ first private school choice program was launched in 2015 and provides scholarships for low-income families in underperforming schools to access another education option.
Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter, less stressful environment to focus in, you may be interested in trying virtual school. Kansas offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, such as Kansas Virtual Academy and Kansas Connections Academy. The Kansas State Department of Education also keeps a list of online learning providers, some of whom may also offer part-time classes, with or without fees.
Homeschooling is another school option in Kansas and all 50 states. As technology and school choices have spread in Kansas, homeschoolers have more support and resources than ever. Check here for resources about homeschooling, the process of parents educating students at home, specific to Kansas. You may also want to check out the Midwest Parent Educators or Christian Home Educators Confederation of Kansas.
For additional information about school choices in Kansas, visit this resource:
National School Choice Week 2021 will take place January 24 – 30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Kansas celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 413 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Kansas.
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