Photo by Brion McCarthy for Live Baltimore

Public Charter Schools

In addition to its network of public zoned schools, Baltimore City offers a variety of public charter schools. Families looking at charters for the first time are likely to have questions! We’ve collected answers to many FAQs below. You may also view the previously recorded webinar Understanding Baltimore’s Charter School Lottery for additional information.

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are public schools that are free and open to all children residing in Baltimore City. The Baltimore City Public School System currently includes 31 charter schools, serving nearly 11,000 students each year. Charter schools have more autonomy in their approach to instruction and in their decision-making than their public zoned counterparts. However, charter schools are still accountable to achievement standards set forth by the Baltimore City school district and the State of Maryland.

What charter school options are available in Baltimore City?

Baltimore City charter schools offer a variety of curricula, pedagogies and enrichment options. Current charter school programs include direct instruction, project-based learning, arts integration, language immersion, Montessori, single sex education, and more. To learn more about charter school options, visit Baltimore City Public Schools’ website, the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools website, or click through the school links on our map.

How do I enroll my child in a charter school?

Nearly all Baltimore City public charter schools enroll students through an application system, not a school “zone.” When the number of students applying to a school is greater than the number of seats available, enrollment is determined by lottery.

To participate in Baltimore City’s charter school lottery:

  1. Identify schools of interest by visiting Baltimore City Public Schools’ website, the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools website, or by clicking through the school links in our map. Be on the lookout for charter school open houses that take place each winter. In-person visits are important!
  2. Contact each school of interest (or visit their websites) to obtain enrollment applications. Please Note: Families are encouraged to apply for multiple schools of interest in order to allow multiple opportunities for lottery selection. There is no limit on the number of schools each student may apply to.
  3. Follow enrollment application instructions, making sure to submit all materials as required. Applications deadlines for all schools is mid-February, the exact time of day and method of submission varies by school (*Families applying to pre-K must also complete district pre-K registration. Complete individual charter applications first.). The lottery for the coming school year will be held in mid-February to early March.
  4. Wait for lottery selection notification from each school to which you have applied. Letters of acceptance or decline will be sent to parents in early March. If your child has been awarded a seat, follow instructions for formal enrollment prior to the start of the school year. You will need to  confirm or decline acceptance by the deadline within your acceptance letter, usually early-mid April. If your child is not selected, please visit our page for Waitlisted applicants to understand your next steps.

When are charter lotteries held?

All Baltimore City charter lotteries are held on a publicized date, usually in mid-February. Because each school manages its lottery individually, the selection process may vary throughout the district. Some schools hold large, formal lottery events, while others conduct their drawings electronically. Contact each school to which you are applying for specific details.

When will I find out if my child has secured a spot in a charter school?

Schools will notify families of their selection status soon after the district-wide lottery drawing date in mid-February. All notifications should be complete by early March.

What happens if my child is not selected in the charter lottery?

Due to the high demand for charter seats in Baltimore City, some children will not be selected in the charter lottery. These children will be placed on a wait list at each individual school to which they have applied. Parents may then wait (and hope to be awarded a seat at a later date), explore public zoned options, and/or apply to private schools. If you have been wait-listed in the charter lottery and need information on ways to remain in Baltimore City, please contact Live Baltimore.

What is a “neighborhood zoned charter school?”

Eight Baltimore City charter schools are considered neighborhood zoned charter schools. Unlike other charters, students at these schools are enrolled based on neighborhood zone preference. If additional seats become available, neighborhood zoned charter schools may still accept applications from outside of their zone.

The current list of neighborhood zoned charter schools includes:

  • City Springs Elementary/Middle
  • The Belair-Edison School
  • Frederick Elementary School
  • Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy
  • Govans Elementary
  • Hampstead Hill Academy
  • Rosemont Elementary/Middle
  • Wolfe Street Academy

View these schools’ zones on our elementary school zone map.

How can I find out more about charter schools?

The following organizations offer additional information about charter schools in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland.

Have more questions about schools in Baltimore City?

Contact Live Baltimore at or call 410-637-3750 x118 for help!

Learn About Other Baltimore City School Types