In 1992, the California State Legislature passed the Charter Schools Act, which allowed for the formation of independent public schools that were free from many of the bureaucratic burdens placed on regular district schools. These schools were required to operate under a “charter” granted by a local school district.
Early in the charter movement, Dennis “Coach” Snyder, took up the challenge to create a new type of high school, with a focus on fundamentals and a passion for American Heritage. Coach Snyder was a long-time teacher in the Escondido High School District, and in 1996, he gave up his career to found Escondido Charter High School.
ECHS had humble beginnings in a business park along East Valley Parkway in Escondido. Starting with only 30 students, the school soon grew to fill all of the offices in three buildings. A close-knit school culture emerged, with teachers, students, and parents working together to provide a quality education.
As demand increased, Escondido Charter High School sought a new location for its campus. In 2003, the school purchased the Edwards Cinema across the street and built Phase One of the new campus, which included a beautiful library, modern computer labs, and an athletics field. The focus on American Heritage continued, and statues of Abraham Lincoln and students reciting the pledge around the flagpole were added.
Three years later, Phase Two of the project was completed adding a 400-seat theater and gymnasium complex. Over 16 years, the school has grown to serve nearly 900 students and has achieved some of the highest test scores in the state. It is one of the top-ranked schools, and has seen its students accepted to highly-competitive universities throughout the country.
Following the construction of the new high school campus, Coach Snyder petitioned the Escondido Elementary School District for a charter to open Heritage K-8 Charter School. Heritage opened in 2004 in the old business park vacated by ECHS and has grown steadily over the last 8 years. In 2011, Heritage K-8 was recognized as the #1 charter school in the State of California by USC.
In addition to the traditional program, Heritage Charter School opened a Digital Academy to provide a different type of learning alternative.