Q: I understand that HOPE Community Academy is a charter school. What does that mean?
A: In Minnesota, charter schools are tuition free independent public schools that are open to and welcome all students no matter ability or need. They are governed and operated jointly by licensed teachers, parents, and community members.
Charter schools are governed by a "charter" which defines the school's specific mission and goals as well as how these goals will be measured. These schools must be authorized by a sponsor who files for approval with the state of Minnesota an affidavit of intent to sponsor a school. Sponsors of charter schools may be nonprofit organizations, foundations, local school districts, intermediate school districts, or post-secondary institutions. HOPE's sponsor is the University of St. Thomas, a highly regarded private university in the Twin Cities.
Q: Who are charter schools accountable to?
A: Charter schools are accountable to their sponsors, the state, parents of children who attend the school, and the public at large for achieving measurable results in student achievement and for implementing fiscally sound management. Since charter schools are public schools, they are open to any student free of charge.
Q: How does HOPE's student performance on mandated standardized tests compare to other schools?
A: HOPE students perform better than students at some schools and not as well as students at other schools. Because the student populations vary from school to school it is difficult to compare one school to another. However, comparisons are available. Visit the website of the Minnesota Association for Charter Schools or the Minnesota Department of Education to compare HOPE's performance to that of other schools.
Q: How are charter schools funded?
A: Charter schools are funded by the State of Minnesota on a per-pupil basis. In addition, charter schools receive state support for their facility expenses since they cannot issue bonds or raise taxes through levies like traditional school districts.
Charter schools also currently receive up to three years of federal charter school start-up funding. Schools can qualify for federal title funding, English Language Learning, and special education funds.
Q: Do charter schools have admission policies?
A: Charter schools are public school and as such they are bound by public law that defines public school admission policies as nonsectarian, nondiscriminatory, and tuition free.
Q: Why are HOPE students required to wear a uniform?
A: Uniforms are important for a number of reasons. In many schools students wear expensive, trendy clothes. This creates problems for other students who are unable to afford such clothes. We are able to avoid this problem by requiring students to wear uniforms. But the most important reason for this policy is student safety. HOPE works hard to create a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students and we can best accomplish this by keeping gang-related apparel out of our school.
Q: What does HOPE offer its students in regard to computer technology?
A: Teaching our students to use and excel in computer technology is a priority at HOPE Community Academy. All students have access to a computer lab. In addition, each classroom has at least four computers for student use, as well as streaming video and electronic projectors which allow teachers to augment lessons with high-quality educational videos. Most classrooms also have Promethean interactive whiteboards installed for student and teacher use. Several classrooms are equipped with an audio-enhancement system.
Q: When was HOPE founded?
A: In 2000, HOPE Community Academy opened its doors to students in grades K-3. It added grade levels annually until it reached its current K-8 configuration. In 2004, the HCA Building Company purchased the property, and in 2006-2007 an addition to the school was completed. The addition included a library, science lab, five classrooms, gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, and playground.