FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What exactly is a charter school? The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools (MACS) defines charter schools as, “tuition free independent public schools that are open to, and welcome all students no matter ability or need, and are governed and operated jointly by licensed teachers, parents and community members.”
Is there tuition or fees to attend your school? No. We are a public school district and free to all to attend.
Are you part of the Forest Lake Area school district? North Lakes Academy is its own independent district that serves our unique community spread across the Lakes Area. We do, however, contract with the Forest Lake Area Schools (FLAS) ISD #831 bus garage to provide transportation.
North Lakes Academy
What is the average class size? At North Lakes Academy the average class size is 20 students. We cap class sizes at around 22 students; class size continues to be one of our top priorities, even as we expand into a larger building.
How is North Lakes Academy different from other schools? Small class sizes allow us to better serve the needs of individual students. We provide an innovative and foundational liberal arts curriculum that is designed to produce well-rounded, college and career-ready students.
What makes North Lakes successful? Small class sizes and a staff to student ratio of 13:1 have earned NLA several recognitions. In 2017, School Digger rated NLA in the top 12% of schools in the state, and #1 in the geographic area. In 2018 and 2019, the MN Department of Education designated NLA as a High-Quality Charter School based on test scores, attendance, and graduation rates. Niche has also ranked North Lakes Academy as the 14th top charter school of the 164 charters in the state!
What is the philosophy of education at North Lakes?
"Who You Become Is As Important As What You Achieve" - North Lakes invests heavily in teaching social-emotional, 21st century skills in all grade levels and classes. These “soft skills” of self-regulation, planning, confidence, and responsibility give students what they need to be successful in school and in life.
"Growth Toward Independence" - We coach our students to take more responsibility as they get older, and pride ourselves on developmentally and age-appropriate expectations to help our students grow toward independence and be successful in their post-secondary education and careers.
Does North Lakes Academy offer elective courses like band, art, shop, et cetera? We have band, choral, and fine arts programs for grades 5-12. We are also beginning to offer more technology-based courses, such as computer programming. We do not offer shop classes, but continue to strive to serve the demands of our families, and are consistently creating new courses to serve the needs and interests of our students.
Do you offer college credit in high school? Yes, we offer Advanced Placement (AP), College-in-the Schools (CIS) and Post-secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) to our high school students. The majority of our graduates earn college credit while in high school. For example, 85% of Class of 2018 graduated with college credit.
Do you have to administer the Minnesota state testing (MCAs, GRAD, et cetera)? Yes. As a public school, we are required by law to administer all of the standardized tests. But because of our lower student-to-teacher ratio, we are able to give much more 1-to-1 help to ensure that are students are successful on such assessments. Families are welcome to opt-out of state testing. More information is available on our website under “Assessments.”
What athletic teams can my student join? Our athletic opportunities for grades 6-12 include: soccer, volleyball, cross country, basketball, track and field, baseball, softball and trap-shooting. NLA coaches offer fundamental skills sports clubs after school for K-5 students as well. NLA is a member of the MN High School League in the TCAC conference.
What clubs and activities are available? We offer a variety of after-school clubs and student-led activities throughout the school year such as robotics and debate, marching band, various music groups, plays and enrichment clubs.
Special Education and Gifted & Talented Services
Do you offer Special Education and G&T accommodations? Yes. We have a highly-skilled special education department at both campuses to meet the needs of those students who need all sorts of accommodations and enrichment.
Do you have a school nurse? We contract with a nursing service to provide oversight and training of our staff. The nurse will coordinate vision and hearing screening, immunization forms, and prescription intake. We have Wellness staff that will execute the day-to-day duties in the nursing office.
Start & End Times and School Year Calendar
What are the start and end times for the school day? All grades K-12 start and end at the same time; roughly 7:50am to 2:14pm (times may change slightly but not significantly; we are at the mercy of ISD #831 bus garage scheduling pick-up and drop-off times).
What is does your yearly school calendar look like? Because we use ISD #831 busing, we follow the same schedule as the FLAS middle and high schools. Note: we do not follow the half-days and elementary-only days off on the FLAS calendar.
How does transportation work at your school? North Lakes contracts with FLAS to provide busing for students who live within ISD #831 boundaries.
Do you have busing for students who do not live in the Forest Lakes Area district? No, busing is only offered to students living inside the ISD #831 boundaries. However, many of our families have made a tradition of working together in order to carpool and find convenient ways to provide transportation. If you have further questions, please contact the school.
What is the shuttle busing system? Because ISD #831 is such a large geographic district, they coordinate busing by bringing buses to a “hub” (currently FL Middle School). From there, students transfer onto their school-specific “shuttle” buses and are brought to North Lakes schools. This process happens in reverse in the afternoon (FL High School is the afternoon “hub”).
What does NLA do to ensure the safety of the elementary students on the buses with older students and during the morning and afternoon transfer process? NLA is committed to staffing the transfer point to help guide elementary students onto the correct shuttle, both in the morning and the afternoon at the beginning of the school year. Drivers tend to sit the younger students in the front and the older students toward the back of the bus.
When can I enroll my student? As early as September of the year before your student will be attending North Lakes. For example, you can register your kindergarten student in September 2018 to attend kindergarten during school year 2019-2020.
How does enrollment work?
By Minnesota law, all new registrations are considered equal until a February lottery date. In February, open seats are filled via a lottery system. Seats remaining after the lottery are on a first come, first-served basis.
Do siblings get automatic admission? Yes, siblings get preference, but if a grade is full, there is no space in which to make the exception.
How is food provided in North Lakes schools? We contract with a school lunch caterer to provide daily hot lunches and cold breakfasts. Kindergarteners are provided free breakfasts, per state statute.
Can you accommodate food allergies? Yes. Just provide our Enrollment Director with documentation of the food allergy before the start of the school year.
How many sections* of each elementary grade is NLA planning for the 2020-2021 school year?
1st grade-- 3 sections each
2nd grade—2 sections
3rd grade—2 sections
4th grades-- 2 sections
5th grade—3 sections
*Administration may add sections pending sufficient enrollment numbers and the ability of NLA to continue to staff for quality programming.
What specialist teachers will be at the elementary? This year there is physical education and STEAM specialists in grades K-5. Fifth grade also has an optional music program. As the elementary population grows, we will be adding more specialists including music and art.
What elementary events will happen during the school year? Open house, parent-teacher conferences, grandparent’s day, holiday celebrations, trunk or treat, book fair, year-end picnic are just some of the events we hope to host in the coming year.
School-Age Care (SAC)
Is there a SAC program on-site? Yes. Connections Care offers programming on-site 6:15am-6pm on school days, professional development days and during some school holidays, such as MEA. Registration information is available on the elementary section of the website.
What volunteer opportunities are available to parents and families? We always welcome volunteers to help with front office tasks, lunch and recess monitoring, reading and math tutoring, and a variety of events hosted throughout the year. Contact our Enrollment Director for more information.