People are always full of questions regarding Aspen Academy—and charter schools in general. We answer as many of those as we can here.
Questions about charter schools in general:
- Do charter schools have admissions policies?
- How are charter schools doing in Minnesota?
- How are charter schools funded?
- What is the difference between a charter school and other public schools?
Questions about Aspen Academy:
- How are the teachers and director hired?
- How is class placement determined?
- How is lunch be provided?
- Is student achievement tested and measured like other public schools?
- What about the “extras” like a playground, phy ed, music, art?
- What about transportation to and from school?
- How can I enroll my child at Aspen Academy?
- What grades does the school serve, and where do the students go after they graduate?
- What type of curriculum does the school implement?
- What does the school calendar look like?
- Where is the school located?
- Do students wear uniforms?
Charter schools are public schools and are bound by law that defines public school admission policies as nonsectarian, nondiscriminatory, and tuition free. Charter schools are open to all students free of charge.
The charter school sector in Minnesota continues to grow. The performance of individual schools has been documented in the Profiles of Minnesota Charter Schools available at www.centerforschoolchange.org. The Minnesota Department of Education has also released a report card for every public school in the state outlining a school’s performance in academic achievement, school safety, student participation, parent satisfaction, and overall financial management. Aspen Academy has excellent test scores, sound finances, and strong enrollment.
Charter schools are funded by the State of Minnesota on a per-pupil rate. In addition, charter schools receive state support for their facilities expenses because they cannot levy taxes for facilities like other school districts. In addition, charter schools are funded their first three years of operation by federal charter school start-up funding.
Charter schools ARE public schools supported with public funds. They may not charge tuition. They must be non-sectarian in their programs and policies. However, they are their own school district — they not part of the “resident district” in whose geographical boundaries they reside. Charter schools must have a unique program or meet a particular community need that differentiates them from the other local schools. Aspen Academy offers the Core Knowledge curriculum, Spanish and Latin, and individualized instruction. We also have small class sizes, offering lower student-to-teacher ratios.
Aspen did a nation-wide search and hired a wonderful director. All staff hold appropriate teaching licenses and bring bring a wide range of strengths to share with each other and the students. Some have backgrounds in the Core Knowledge curriculum. Others have fantastic experience in teaching Reading, or Science, or Math. As we continue to hire new staff we look for a variety of backgrounds, teaching experiences, and personalities, feeling that this mix will bring a richness to your child’s school day and learning experience.
It is our goal to strive for balanced classrooms. This means equally dividing the boys and girls, balancing the range of abilities and needs within each classroom, and other various factors. Sometimes parents will request that their child be placed with a specific friend or neighbor. It is often a better life skill to work with children on widening their circle of acquaintances and exploring new friendships. Aspen Academy has hired excellent teachers and each one brings unique skills and a love of children to the job. Students will switch teachers for Math and Reading and sometimes for Science and Social Studies as well and so will likely have time with all teachers in his or her grade level over the course of the day.
Aspen Academy contracts with Lancer Dining who provides meals that meet USDA Child Nutrition requirements. The cost for School Lunch is $3.50. The cost for Milk is 40 cents. Hot lunch must be pre-ordered and pre-paid. There are no refunds for days absent. Students may also bring a bag lunch from home. If students forget a lunch and a parent cannot be reached, a cold lunch will be provided and the student’s lunch account will be billed accordingly. Fast food is not allowed in the lunchroom.
Three times a year, our students take Math and Reading assessments that are based on the MN State Standards. Data from these assessments allows teachers to individualize instruction for your child to maximize academic success. We also use the Comprehensive Testing Program or CTP assessment that provides information on your child’s progress in Math and Reading with national and suburban norms. Starting in grade 3, students take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) Click here to view our report card
We have a playground where students may play at recess. We have a large gym for Phy Ed. We also offer Music and our band program starts in grade 5. Students have Art twice a week. We offer Spanish to all students and in 4th grade, our students start Latin. We also offer a variety of after-school programs. Past activities have included Drama, Craft Club, Multi-Sports, and Chess, just to name a few.
Aspen has recently started busing for some of its students. Other families are still carpooling to and from school. Realizing that some parents may need to accommodate their work schedules, Aspen offers before- and after-school care beginning at 7am and going until 5:30pm in the evening. Contact the office if you are interested in more information.
For more information on enrollment, sibling preference, wait lists and lotteries please go to our enrollment page.
Aspen Academy was approved for grades K-8. We opened in September 2008 with grades K-3. We are currently serving grades K-8.
We use a Core Knowledge-based curriculum that is very rich in literature and has an in-depth Science and Social Studies curriculum. We use Singapore Math which has a heavy emphasis on model drawing and word problems. For more information on Core Knowledge you can go to their website (www.coreknowledge.org) or read through the books “What your (Kindergartener–Sixth) Grader Should Know” available in most bookstores. Click here to learn more about our curriculum.
Our school day runs from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. We will follow a fairly traditional school year with a slightly longer day of 7 hours and more days in school than the traditional district schools. Our school calendar is posted on the calendar page of our website. Future year’s calendars are usually approved by the school board in February or March.
We are located at 14825 Zinran Avenue, Savage, MN 55378.
Take Hwy 13 to 150th Street, go north on 150th to Zinran. Turn left on Zinran. Turn right into the parking lot for the karate school and you’ll see Aspen Academy at the back.
Aspen students wear a uniform of khaki pants and a hunter green or white polo (long or short sleeved) or a turtle neck also in hunter green or white. Middle schools students may add black pants and gray shirts to the uniform choices. Please visit our Parent page for more detailed information.