The Online Application Process
Q. How long does it take to complete the online application process? Typically, the process should take from 10-20 minutes.
Q. What if I do not have access to a computer? Please contact the school at 415-883-4254 for assistance.
Q. Once I've submitted the application electronically, how will I know that the submission is successful? Once the application is completed online, you will receive a generated message based on the email address you provided when you created an account.
Q. My account has been disabled because I've attempted to login too many times. Should I set up another account? No. You must call the Office at 415-883-4254 for an administrator to assist you.
Q. I live in a nearby school district. Will my child be able to enroll in Novato Charter School? Yes. Any student in California is eligible to enroll, however, placement preference is given to those who live in the City of Novato.
Q. Are students selected based on a first-come, first serve process? No. All eligible applications submitted by the application deadline will be entered into the lottery. Students are selected based on pre-defined Board-approved criteria (see admission policy).
Q. How is the lottery conducted? On the designated lottery date (early March), the electronic software randomly generates the admission ranking by grade and priority categories. Once the lottery is "run", parents can log into the Parent Portal to see where their child is ranked on the wait list. Once a seat becomes available, parents are contacted by the school.
Q. When will parents be notified if their child has a seat? Parents will receive notification by phone and/or email if their child has received a space.
About Novato Charter School
Q. Is a charter school a public school? Yes. Charter schools are public schools of choice open to anyone committed to being a part of the educational community.
Q. So how is a charter school different from a traditional public school? A charter school is a public school that operates independently from its local school district, yet which is still accountable for student achievement and operational performance. A charter school is funded on a per-student basis from state tax funds, and is bound by a legal contract (charter) with its sponsoring district. However, it is exempt from many elements of state education regulations and is governed as an independent non-profit, with its own board of directors. Charter schools were developed to encourage educators to try different approaches in the public sector since children do not all learn in the same manner.
Q. Do you charge tuition? No. Charter schools receive funding from the state of California. However, this funding is insufficient to provide the level of education offered. All families are encouraged to support the school to the extent possible. The gap between what the state provides and what it costs to educate a student at Novato Charter School is about $2,400 per year. We have a separate, non-profit foundation called the Novato Charter Foundation that is solely dedicated to supporting our school. We hope everyone participates by volunteering and giving in various ways.
Q. Do you follow a traditional curriculum? Yes. Our school follows closely the traditional core principles of Public Waldorf education and is committed to being a model in this regard.
Q. Why do you discourage media for children? The reasons for this have as much to do with the physical effects of the medium on the developing child as with the content of much of the programming. Electronic media is believed to seriously hamper the development of the child's imagination - a faculty which is believed to be central to the healthy development of the individual. Computer use by young children is also discouraged.
Q. Who is eligible to attend Novato Charter School? Charter schools, as non-tuition based government-funded public schools, are open to anyone residing in the state of California. If more students apply than there are spaces available, admission is decided by lottery. Priority is given to students residing in the Novato Unified School District, but if spaces remain, students from outside the district are allowed to attend. Once a student is enrolled at the school, priority is also given to siblings. Age restrictions on public school students also apply to us.
Q. How is your educational approach different? Educational approaches incorporating the core principles of Public Waldorf Education are designed to be developmentally appropriate. The method is partly based on the question: what is the best thing to teach a child at each age? Rather than the question: how early can a child be taught each subject? Children are given tasks according to their readiness, and not pushed towards the earliest possible achievement. educational approach is also multidisciplinary, centered on a 3-4 week subject unit called the Main Lesson Block. At Novato Charter School, academic studies are integrated across disciplines such as art, science, math, and history. For example, students in a seventh grade main lesson history block on the Renaissance Period may be studying the lives and times of da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rafael, while at the same time creating their own "text-books," complete with their own writings and drawings. Earlier in the day they might practice 3-part recorder music and recite poetry from the Renaissance, and later the same day, study the laws of perspective in Math class. The next day they would apply those laws in their own drawings or paintings.
Q. Does your school support early reading skills? Our curriculum has a strong bent toward early-learning language skills including story-telling and oral traditions. This exposure, when integrated in lessons, serves to awaken the imagination and creates a strong curiosity for successful introduction of reading and writing, in addition to introducing phonemic awareness through listening. Our curriculum includes instruction of foundational reading skills starting in Kindergarten including phonemic awareness, sequence, and fine motor skills. Comprehension and reading interest are strongly linked to the creative aspects of our curriculum. Focus on oral traditions and the Main Lesson Block approach, further helping to build foundational skills. We are confident that the curriculum meets student academic needs, as our students thrive in high school and college after graduate from Novato Charter, and our state test scores are among the highest in the county.
Q. What kind of child benefits from your school? Many different types of children benefit from our methods. Because the lessons involve multiple intelligences (movement, language, drawing) children can enter into learning in several ways. That said, our school involves a structured approach that is centered around whole-group instruction, rather than individualized work or programs where children rotate around lesson centers. Because the teaching style and curriculum are centered around a child’s development needs, children tend to be heavily engaged in their individual learning in the group setting. As one teacher refers to it: “teacher-directed, child-centered.”
One of the major strengths of this type of instruction is the sense of community and cooperation that develops within the class — an open community that invites children in rather than closing out new kids. That said, it isn’t right for everyone. Those families looking for very individualized instruction, a “choice-based” learning environment, or who would like a small class size may not find our school the right fit.
Q. Does your school provide support for different kinds of learners? How do you support single classrooms for both "advanced" and slower learners? While the lessons are whole class, different children can engage at different levels of complexity and/or progress at different speeds. We strive to meet the needs of each student and most families find that their child’s needs are fulfilled through the mix of auditory and visual presentation of the material.
Q. Does your school have a music program? Yes. All students study music at our school. In fact, it is a requirement for students to play an instrument throughout their time with us and we ask that families take this commitment seriously.
Q. What kind of foreign language program do you offer and for which grades? We offer Spanish to all students, grades K-8. Following our arts-based framework, much of the early instruction in Spanish is be song and music-based. Games and verse will figure prominently in instruction through the grades.
Q. How can I reserve a spot for my child at your school? We encourage you to attend a parent tour to learn if our school is right for you. Online applications (www.ncsapplication.org) can be submitted from September 1st through the lottery date (early March) for entry the following school year.
The impetus for the Novato Charter School began with a small group of founding parents who were actively involved in the Novato public school system. In researching alternative programs, the group learned of Senator Gary Hart’s charter school legislation (SB1448). This bill, passed in 1992, was intended to encourage parents, educators, and members of the community to try innovative approaches to education in order to find ways of improving student learning. This legislation allowed for the development of 100 charter schools in California.
Contact Us:Novato Charter School
940 "C" Street
Novato, CA 94949
Main phone line
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