FAQ/Charter School Basics
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school that is funded by tax dollars and operates independently from the local county schools. Charter schools are non-sectarian, non-discriminatory, and non-selective in their admissions practices, and they must comply with the testing requirements established by the North Carolina State Board of Education. Therefore, any student from NC can apply to get into any NC charter school, and all students must take the state required end of year tests. Charter schools are encouraged to use innovative teaching methods to improve learning experiences for all students. Since charter schools are public schools, they are tuition free, with funding coming directly from federal, state, and local taxes.
Who can attend a charter school?
Any North Carolina resident can attend if there is space available; a registration lottery determines admissions if there are more students interested than the school can accommodate. Students may attend any school regardless of their county residence. For example, a Mecklenburg County resident can attend a charter school in Cabarrus County.
How is a charter school different from my neighborhood public school?
Charter schools are public schools and must follow specific federal and state laws. As a charter school, each charter school receives funding from the state for each student that attends our school. Each charter school is managed by an independent Board of Directors that has the freedom to create its educational program from the ground up. Every charter school is held accountable by the NC State Board of Education for end of the year test scores. In addition to end of the year test results, each charter school submits their academic and operational goals as part of their charter school application. Schools are required to meet these goals to maintain their charter with the state. Each school’s goals can be found in their charter application. Ours can be found here: [link]. Because charter schools are not governed by the local school board, they have the freedom to hire teachers as needed and are not required to follow the state salary scale. Therefore, charter school teachers can be paid appropriately based upon professional accomplishments, responsibilities and performance. Charter schools also have the freedom to develop their own curriculum and follow the course of study they believe will best prepare their students for the future. For example, at Bradford Prep we believe that all of our students should graduate high school fluent in both Spanish and English so we will begin teaching Spanish in Kindergarten and will begin offering full year Spanish courses in 7th grade. We have also adjusted our graduation requirements to meet the college entrance requirements of the most competitive universities in the country.
At what age can my child start school?
If the child reaches the age of five years on or before August 31st of the year he/she is presented for enrollment, the child is eligible to enroll. If his fifth birth date falls on or after September 1st, the child is not eligible to enroll.
Are students at charter schools required to take state mandated tests?
Yes, our students are required to take all standardized tests as mandated by the state of North Carolina. NC End of Grade (EOG) testing begins in 3rd grade and is taken annually through 8th grade. Students in grades 9 through 12 take End of Course (EOC) tests at the end of specific core courses.
Are charter school teachers certified?
Yes, the state requires 50% of charter school teachers to be certified. Because not all teachers are required to have certification, charter schools have the option to hire teachers who are experts in their subject matter and then train them to teach students. In doing this, charter schools have the opportunity to attract teachers that are passionate about their field of study and who will share that enthusiasm and knowledge with their students. For example, a charter school could hire an accountant to teach a high school accounting class.
How are charter schools held accountable for educating their students?
Charter schools are not only held accountable to the state but also to the parents and students they serve. While we value the accountability that end of year state mandated exams provide, we believe that test scores only show a part of the picture when it comes to educating our students. As an educational choice, the school is also held accountable to the parents and students that attend, as they are not required to stay if they are dissatisfied with the education their child is receiving.
Where can I find more information about charter schools?
The NC Office of Charter Schools website provides additional information about charter schools in North Carolina.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bradford Preparatory School
How is Bradford Prep different from the local traditional public schools?
Put simply, Bradford Prep differs from the local area traditional public schools in the following ways:
As a college prep school apply more stringent graduation requirements, enabling students to advance on a path that will fully prepare them for college.
We ensure a 1:1 student-computer ratio starting in upper school.
We address the myriad needs of each student through our ENRICH program which will develop social skills, study and organizational skills, public speaking, writing, emotional intelligence, personal finance, teamwork, leadership and healthy living, to name a few.
We remain flexible in instruction styles, adjusting methods and programs to reflect the latest research and trends.
We apply brain-based research methods and educate our students by providing developmentally appropriate education through hands-on learning in a brain-compatible environment.
We offer intensive foreign language starting in kindergarten versus middle school as seen in our local schools.
We place a strong emphasis on health and nutrition, with daily PE classes.
We offer extensive college and career counseling, with the college/career planning process beginning in 7th grade.
How does Bradford Prep receive its funding?
Charter schools receive funds from the state and county for operating expenses. These funds vary from county to county and follow the student. If a student lives in Cabarrus County for example, the charter school receives $5,915 in county and local funding. However, if the student comes from Mecklenburg County, the school receives $6,701 to educate the student. In the case of a student that requires Exceptional Children’s programming, the school receives an additional $3,743 in federal funds to cover all costs of therapies or pull out services that the student requires. Charter schools do not receive any capital/building funds so schools must do their own fundraising to cover those costs.
What grades are available at Bradford Prep?
Bradford Prep is currently operating as a K-10 school with four classes per grade. The school is adding a class per grade every year thereafter until the class reaches a total of 140 students. We will add a grade every year until we are a full K-12 school for the 2018-2019 school year. We will have eighteen students per class in Kindergarten, twenty students per class in first grade, twenty-two in second and third grades and an average of 24 students per class in grades 4-12.
How do I enroll my child at Bradford Prep?
We are currently accepting applications for the 2017-2018 school year. The open enrollment period ended at 11:59 p.m. on February 10, 2017. A public lottery will be held on 2/14/2017.
Does Bradford Prep offer special education services?
Yes, as a public charter school we are required to follow all federal laws including providing special education services and services for English as a Second Language students. Bradford Prep follows all Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) for any Exceptional Children’s (EC) student. When an EC student transfers to BPS, their IEP and education file transfers with them. Every IEP is reviewed on an annual basis. Bradford Prep has an academic and behavioral intervention process in place in order to identify any additional students that might qualify for special education services. Our EC staff is fully certified to teach all of our EC students.
How do you intend to pay for your facilities?
We are fortunate to be working with a developer in the construction of the Bradford Prep campus. This developer has the experience building charter school campuses all over the country. This company has agreed to purchase our land and build our campus. Initially, we will lease the campus from the development company. Once the campus is complete, the developer will assist us in receiving a bond for the property. This will allow us to build a campus without the requirement of any money upfront.
Why do you have PE daily?
It is no secret that children today are at a greater risk of developing a variety of diseases due to the lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits. Bradford Prep believes a student’s ability to learn is directly tied to their overall health. Physical education can help students improve self-discipline, develop motor skills, enhance moral development, strengthen peer relationships, improve self-esteem, set goals and reduce stress. Our PE program is a comprehensive program that provides our students with the tools and resources needed to make positive changes toward eating healthier and getting more physical activity that will develop into a lifetime of healthy habits. By providing daily PE time for our students to be active, they will not only be taking care of their bodies, but increasing their brain’s ability to learn. Bradford Prep schedules 40-45 minutes of PE every day of the week for all students. The classes spend two days of the week focusing on building skills in the sport designated for the month and two days for physical fitness training (running, boot camp workouts, obstacle courses, jump roping, yoga, etc) In addition, the students will spend time in the classroom discussing and evaluating healthy food choices, developing healthy habits and learning lifelong skills that will assist each student as they become more independent and have the opportunity to make healthy food choices on their own.
What is the ENRICH Program?
Please click here to read more about our ENRICH program.
Will you offer transportation at the school?
Because of our limited amount of funding, we are unable to offer bussing at this time. Parents will be asked to drive their child to and from school. We expect many families will form carpool co-ops in their surrounding neighborhoods and that some families will coordinate with before and after school care facilities for transportation.
Do you have a cafeteria?
We do not expect to have the funds required to build a cafeteria for the first few years of the school. Students bring a bag lunch each day and lunch is eaten in their classrooms or outside with the teacher or teacher assistant. We currently offer a hot lunch program at the school. Parents are able to order hot lunches one month at a time and the food is delivered from local restaurants.
Do you offer sports?
The Board of Directors is passionate about the athletics program at Bradford Prep and intends to work towards offering a full athletics program at the school. We believe so much can be gained from participating on team sports and playing for your school and hope to develop a full athletics program as quickly as possible. We currently offer 3-4 sports per season for both boys and girls. We anticipate being somewhat limited in the first couple years by our facility, but have plans for a full campus with practice and competition fields.
What extracurricular activities do you currently offer?
Bradford Prep offers several clubs to meet interests and passions of the student body. We currently offer Student Government, Drama Kids, Bricks 4 Kidz, Club 180, Math Olympiad, Debate Club, National Junior Honor Society, Yearbook and Musical Theatre. As interests arise and our population grows, we anticipate offering a full range of intramural sports, jazz band and any additional clubs as requested and supported by the student body.
How are parents made aware of volunteer opportunities at the school?
Bradford Prep encourages families to volunteer at the school. Volunteer hours can be completed by anyone in the family including children who are age 18 or older. Bradford Prep families have many opportunities to serve including: different enrichment events, helping with carpool, assisting with landscaping, helping in the classroom or during lunch or helping in a variety of other ways.
Because we are limited in our initial funding, Bradford Prep hopes to have parents that are passionate about helping and improving the school. All volunteer opportunities will be placed on our website to give our parents a full picture of the areas they can help in. We would love to have parents pursue areas they are passionate about and look forward to working with all of the Bradford Prep families to make Bradford Prep a great school for our students!
Do you have a PTA?
We have parent committees that meet regularly to assist the school as we develop programs that directly affect our students, our parents and to consider any parent needs or requests as they arise. We feel very strongly about the parent-school connection and want parents to feel comfortable making suggestions and providing feedback to the school in an organized, productive way.
Does Bradford Prep offer benefits to their teachers a staff?
BPS offers health insurance, short and long term disability, life insurance and retirement benefits to all of its full-time employees. For more information about employment opportunities, please click here.
Does Bradford Prep follow the state pay scale for teachers?
No, Bradford Prep does follow the pay scale set up by North Carolina for its teachers. We believe in paying our teachers appropriately for the work done in and out of the classroom. Because we will not be following the state pay scale, we will have the ability offer salaries that are competitive in order to attract top teachers. We believe in providing annual raises for our teachers and treating them as professionals in all that they do. The quality of our teaching staff is our top priority and we have prioritized it as such in our budget as well.
I would love to serve on the Board of Directors. How can I learn more about that opportunity?
As board openings become available, the chair of the nominating committee on the Board will solicit new members. All members serve two year terms on the board and will be asked to either be a chair or vice chair of one of the board committees. We look for individuals willing to dedicate their time and talents in making Bradford Prep the best it can be. The Board has monthly meetings and is involved with developing school policies and making key decisions as they arise. Parents of students at the school will receive notification as board openings arise.
Why don’t you require students in elementary school to do homework?
Studies have shown that homework is not effective in reiterating the day’s lessons. Bradford Prep believes it is more beneficial for students to engage in free play and physical activity at the end of the school day. The school has designated time for all students to have a study hall so that students can work independently on classwork while still having access to teachers as needed. As students progress toward high school, they will be assigned more independent work and projects to be completed at home in preparation for college level work. Students will, however, maintain the daily study hall time during the school day to give them a jump on the assigned work. It is the preference of the school that students not have so much homework assigned that they are unable to hold a part-time job and/or participate in sports or extracurricular activities as we believe these are all beneficial activities and should be given ample time.
How do you calculate grades at Bradford Prep?
The class rank is based on a weighted grade point average in which 1/2 of quality point is added to passing grades earned in Honors courses. Courses eligible for weights include Honors sections of standard level academic courses that are aligned to the honors curriculum, instruction, and assessment standards. Pre-calculus, foreign language and fine arts courses beyond the second year high school level are considered to be inherently advanced and are given an extra 1/2 point when calculating GPA. One quality point is added to passing grades earned in Advanced Placement courses. Please click here to read more about Bradford Prep's grading scale.