There's one piece of advice that's the most important for people writing a charter school application. That is to have the school's vision and mission fully developed and convey that, consistently, throughout the entire application. Everything, even the budget, should be aligned.
Oftentimes, a team of people write the charter school application. Unfortunately, quite often it LOOKS like a team of people wrote the application. In other words, there isn't consistency with terms, vision/mission, philosophy, and anticipated outcomes. This most often happens when it's obvious that the applicant has taken bits and pieces of other charter school applications to make their own. A little bit of STEM, Core Knowledge and character education might seem like a great idea to the novice applicant, but experienced charter school application reviewers can sometimes even recognize the language from other applications.
There needs to be a final edit of the application for flow and consistency. Although many would think it obvious that someone should run spell check, but it's amazing how many applications make a person wonder if these people are capable of running a school due to the poor grammar and the typos.
What does it mean to be consistent with the vision and mission? For example, a Direct Instruction/Core Knowledge school might not have much in the technology line in their budget because teaching technology isn't a priority, especially in the early grades. Or a school that plans to focus on serving pregnant or parenting teens needs to have a flexible schedule and individual-based education plans in order to accommodate the student's unique learning and scheduling needs.
Another aspect to the lack of focus in some applications, is the applicant who wants to "do it all!" These applications make the reader wonder how school leaders could possibly squeeze everything into a school day/year and still manage to teach reading and math. Great ideas to be sure, but overly ambitious. But even overly ambitious applicants can be viewed as not having a clear understanding of what they want their charter school to be known for. It's important to remember that at the end of the day, it's about raising student academic achievement. After all, that's why public charter schools exist.