Charter schools are tuition-free public schools started by parents, teachers, businesses, and/or community leaders. In Massachusetts, there are two types of charter schools: Horace Mann Charter Schools and Commonwealth Charter Schools. Horace Mann Charter Schools are started in cooperation with the local school district and are accountable to both the local school committee and the State Department of Education.
Commonwealth charter schools operate independently from local school districts and are accountable to the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). River Valley is a Commonwealth charter school and like all Massachusetts charter public schools, it is a school of choice. The school operates with freedom from some of the regulations that apply to traditional district schools in exchange for a higher degree of accountability. Charter schools control their own staffing and budgeting. They do not report to the local school committee; instead they have their own Board of Trustees.
Charter schools create their own missions and adopt their own teaching methods. River Valley Charter School adopted the Montessori Method.
Charter schools are provided with per pupil funding based on the same rate of funding as the district in which a student resides.
River Valley's application for a charter, when approved, became a renewable five-year contract between the school’s Board of Trustees and DESE. The state monitors progress toward the goals stated in the school’s Accountability Plan (below) through annual financial audits, detailed progress reports, annual reports, and site visits. Every five years the school is required to reapply for another five year charter term. River Valley has received renewal of its charter every time it has been up for renewal. The school has been renewed without limitations or restrictions, giving solid testament to the school’s ongoing success.
The school's next charter renewal is 2019. During the 2018-2019 school year, the school will prepare renewal documentation, a renewal report, and prepare for a site visit.