Someone asked me today, "What's key to starting a successful charter school?" I've seen charter school applications get approved that are about 10 pages long and I've seen the 4-inch binder applications written by experienced educators get denied and never open. Getting a charter school application approved is very political.
The people involved in starting a charter school are the ones who determine whether or not the school will be successful. Charter school operators sacrifice fancy buildings and instead concentrate on delivering a quality educational program. Inexperienced staff can be great with the right leader and effective professional development. Charter school board members don't have to bring a lot of expertise as long as they're willing to learn and have a never-ending commitment to the school.
But boiling it all down to one or two key factors to success? First, an educational program designed to increase academic achievement with the targeted student population. Second, a principal who can implement the board's vision and effectively lead the staff.