Q. Could you explain the application process?
A. All new applicants must file an application by the deadline. Students who are not selected by the lottery are placed on a waiting list in the order in which they were drawn and are contacted if space becomes available. All applicants are given equal consideration within the following state-mandated guidelines: siblings of currently enrolled students are given first consideration; applicants who live in PFSJCS’s priority area (see below) are given second consideration; and all other Massachusetts residents are given third consideration. Applications must include proof of Massachusetts residency. (Note that only biological and legal siblings are eligible for sibling status.)
Q. Do any communities have priority in the lottery?
A. Admissions priority is given to Holyoke, Chicopee, Westfield, West Springfield, Northampton, and South Hadley. However, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education limits the number of students who may attend charter schools from individual districts. Although this has not happened in the past, it is possible that a student who has been accepted as the result of the lottery is not allowed to enroll in PFSJCS because the sending school district has reached its limit.
Q. How do I get an application?
A. Applications are available beginning in November for the following school year. You may pick up an application in the school office at 161 Lower Westfield Road, Holyoke or by calling the school at 413.536-3201. You may also download an application beginning in November from our website: www.paulofreirecharterschool.org.
Q. What is the deadline for applying?
A. The deadline varies by a day or two, depending on the calendar. The deadline for the 2016-2017 school year is March 4, 2016. That is the date that most applications must be either postmarked, faxed, or delivered to the school office. Applications that are submitted after the deadline will not be included in the lottery. Applications left at the school door will not be accepted. However, sibling applications only will be accepted up until, but not after, the lottery takes place.
Q. When does the lottery happen?
A. The lottery date fluctuates, but is generally no later than March for the following year. The lottery for the 2016-2017 school year will be held on March 10, 2016.
Q. I applied last year and am on the waiting list. Do I have to reapply?
A. Charter Schools in Massachusetts are now prohibited from “rolling” waitlists from year-to-year. If you are interesting in enrolling in Paulo Freire during the 2016-207 school year, you must submit a new application by the application deadline.
Q. My student is in elementary school. Can I get an application now?
A. Applications are available in November for students who are applying for the following school year. It is not possible to apply more than one year in advance.
Q. What does my waiting list number mean?
A. Every year there have been more applicants than openings. When the lottery takes place, applications are drawn to fill openings. Once openings are filled, we continue to draw and assign waiting list numbers to the remaining applications. Applicants who are offered enrollment may have up to 48 hours to accept or decline enrollment. Students who decline are removed from the lottery. Deferment until a later date is not permitted.
Q. How long will I be on the waiting list before I get in?
A. As openings occur, applicants on the waiting list are called. There is often no way to predict exactly when an opening will occur.
Q. Can my student and I visit the school before applying?
A. We have so many requests to visit the school that it would be disruptive to have ongoing visitors in classrooms. In January and February there are evening Open Information Meetings held at the school.
Q. Can I transfer my child into PFSJCS right away?
A. Only applicants who have gone through the application process may transfer into PFSJCS. In the rare event when there is an opening and no waiting list, it is sometimes possible to move quickly through the application and enrollment process.
Q. I already have a student at PFSJCS. How do I get my other child into the school?
A. In Massachusetts siblings of currently enrolled students at a charter school are given preference by being put at the top of the waiting list. To qualify for sibling status, students must share a common parent, either biologically or legally through adoption. Whether the children reside in the same household has no bearing on determining if the children are siblings for purposes of sibling preference. If there are more sibling applicants than openings, the original lottery numbers are used to prioritize students. Sibling applicants must meet all admissions requirements including application deadlines. Sibling applications will be accepted up until, but not after, the lottery takes place.
Q. I have two children who want to apply to PFSJCS at the same time. If one gets into the school by the lottery, does the other child immediately also get in?
A. Not necessarily. Sibling status only applies to siblings of currently enrolled students. Only after one student is actually in attendance at PFSJCS does the sibling of that student receive sibling consideration. Only biological and legal siblings are eligible for sibling status.
Q. I am desperate and your school could save my child’s life, so could you please make an exception in our situation?
A. We are, of course, sympathetic to individuals in difficult situations. However, we are legally required to honor the waiting list and all other state requirements.
Q. We declined PFSJCS enrollment in the past (or withdrew), but now my child wants to go to PFSJCS. Can my child get in again?
A. You may reapply to the school and follow the usual application process.
Q. What should I do if I don’t know if my student will be promoted? What grade should we apply for?
A. A candidate for admission is required to check off the grade applying for on the application. If no grade is selected, it is assumed that the applicant is applying for the grade following the current grade and that the student will successfully be promoted into that grade to be admitted. It is not possible to move to another grade after the lottery has taken place.
Q. I mailed the application on time, but you didn’t receive it. What can I do?
A. We always note the postmarked date on applications. We recommend parents either drop off applications at the PFSJCS office or send them by certified mail.
Q. Does PFSJCS accept students who have special needs?
A. Yes. PFSJCS is a public school and follows all Massachusetts laws for special education.
Q. We live in another state but plan to relocate to Holyoke. Can we apply to PFSJCS before we move?
A. Proof of Massachusetts residency is required at the time of application (except in the case of homeless students).
Q. If our plans to move into PFSJCS’s priority area fall through, will our student’s enrollment status be affected?
A. Yes, if plans for a student to relocate to our priority area are cancelled, a prior offer of enrollment will be withdrawn, and the student will be placed behind other students who reside in our priority area.
Q. Will PFSJCS increase enrollment in the future?
A. The school is not expected to increase its size at any time in the near future. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must approve any increase.
Q. I’m a junior. How do I go about transferring to PFSJCS for my senior year?
A. Generally, PFSJCS does not accept students applying for the senior class.
Q. What is the tuition at PFSJCS?
A. PFSJCS is a public school. There is no tuition.
Q. If I enroll in PFSJCS after the ninth grade, do I still need to meet all PFSJCS’s graduation requirements?
A. All PFSJCS students must meet all academic requirements in order to graduate. Credit earned at a prior school may be counted toward PFSJCS requirements.
Q. Are PFSJCS students required to take the MCAS?
A. Yes. PFSJCS is a public school, and students must meet all state graduation requirements.
Q. How do I get additional information?
A. You may check our website www.paulofreireschooljusticecharterschool.org, or contact the Executive Director, Bob Brick at 413.536-3201, or firstname.lastname@example.org.