Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to frequently asked questions as well as other general information about our school. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, please call us at (763) 754-6577 or utilize our online contact form to send us a message and we’ll answer your questions!
General School Information
Minnesota charter schools are independent public schools started, governed and operated jointly by licensed teachers, parents, community members and an elected board of directors. They are part of the state public school system, but operate independently, as a separate school district. All charter schools in Minneosta are tuition‐free and are open to and welcome all students, no matter ability or need.
Minnesota was the birthplace of the charter movement. In 1991, the Minnesota Legislature passed the first charter school law in the nation. It was the beginning of a unique public school option that has grown steadily over the past two decades. As of August 2015, there are 165 charter schools in operation in the state. While over 60% of charters are located in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area, there are charters in communities across the state.
Charter schools are non-profit organizations funded by state general education revenues. However, unlike traditional school districts, charter schools cannot initiate tax levies to generate additional funding. Charter schools are open to all students, and do not charge tuition.
Every charter school in Minnesota must be approved by the Minnesota Department of Education and have a sponsoring Authorizer, who is responsible for oversight of all school operations. Both of these entities monitor the charter school’s performance in meeting both academic and non-academic charter contract goals the school has established and they have approved. DaVinci Academy’s Authorizer is Friends of Education.
Charter schools offer a unique educational choice in terms of curriculum, instructional methodology and an overall learning experience focused on results. An effective charter school is designed to increase student achievement above the levels experienced in a traditional public school.
Charter School Basics
- Charter schools are tuition free public schools.
- Charter schools may not require entrance exams or requirements.
- Charter schools may not limit the admission of pupils on the basis of intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or athletic ability.
- Charter schools must accept all students up to capacity. If there are more students than slots, the school must conduct a lottery.
- Charter schools are normally smaller in size than traditional public schools and usually have smaller class sizes.
- Charter schools receive less per pupil funding than traditional public schools; they may not levy property taxes, and receive no funding from local property taxes.
- Charter schools are formed and operate as Minnesota non‐profit corporations.
- Charter schools boards enter into a legally binding charter contract with an authorizer.
- Charter school teachers must hold a valid Minnesota teaching license.
Our focus on the Core Knowledge Sequence and differentiated instruction, together with a small community environment, where parents have the opportunity to become true partners in their child’s education, is only part of what sets DaVinci Academy apart from other schools. A curriculum that focuses on art and science and positive reinforcement strategies add to the unique attributes of our school. DaVinci Academy also provides students with opportunities to connect with the community by hosting annual science and art fairs and through group service projects.
DaVinci Academy’s school day begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. We utilize a modified year-round schedule such that students start school the second week in August and continue through the third week of June each year, with approximately 6 weeks for a summer break. This schedule assures that students retain more over the summer break and it limits the time in the fall for gearing up and re-teaching before moving forward in the curriculum. The school provides shorter, more frequent breaks during the school year; and, these breaks benefit students as they allow time for administration and teachers to review data, refresh lesson plans based on that data, and prepare for the next unit of instruction. Students and teachers alike are rejuvenated by the regular breaks.
Please contact your child’s classroom teacher first for specific requests. For additional needs you can contact the administration as follows.
Brenda Gerard (a.m.)
Nicole Hartfield (p.m.)
(763) 754-6577 ext. 101
email School Office
- General Questions
- Lunch Accounts Coordinator
- Enrollment Coordinator
- Attendance Coordinator
Kindergarten classes are currently limited to a maximum of 20 students each. First grade through fifth grade classes currently have a maximum of 26 students each classroom. In sixth through eighth grades the class sizes are capped at 25 students. The ability groups for the reading and math classes are typically smaller.
DaVinci Academy students are required to wear uniforms. The Student Uniform Policy (Policy 504) is functional. It focuses students’ attention on their school work rather than on their or other’s attire. It also encourages impartiality and assists in establishing a school climate of increased academic and character performance.
DaVinci Academy provides students with the opportunity to purchase catered hot lunches, cold breakfast, and milk at school. View the current menus and order forms on our Food Service page.
Families may apply for free/reduced meals anytime during the school year using the Free and Reduced Form found on our Food Service page.
DaVinci Academy has set up bus routes to best serve the majority of our students. Stops are coordinated in central locations throughout the school’s bus service area. That service area currently includes the cities of Andover, Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids, East Bethel, Oak Grove, Ham Lake, Spring Lake Park, Circle Pines and Lino Lakes.
See more details under Transportation on our School Information page.
Parental involvement is essential to the success of DaVinci Academy. More information about volunteering and opportunities can be found on our Volunteering page. There are also opportunities to join the School Board or various Board Committees; both play key roles in the managing and ongoing development of our school. Additionally, we have a very active PTO — visit the PTO website for information about events, fundraisers and upcoming meetings!
DaVinci Academy is open to any interested students entering kindergarten through eighth grade. The school district does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, parental status, status with regard to public assistance, disability, sexual orientation or age.
Students entering kindergarten must be five years old prior to September 1 of the enrollment year. Please reference the School Policies page for forms and more information regarding early admissions.
DaVinci Academy is a public school and as such we do not charge any registration or tuition fees.
We hold information nights in the fall and winter for prospective families to visit and tour the school. Families can view and sign-up for upcoming sessions online, or see more information on our Visit Our School page. Please reference our Academic Calendar for dates and times.
DaVinci Academy follows a “ modified year-round” school calendar: students start school the second week of August and continue through the third week of June each year, with approximately 6 weeks for a summer break.
The rationale for this calendar is that students retain more over the short break, and it reduces the time spent gearing up and re-teaching each fall.
We take more frequent breaks during the school year and find that the breaks are good for both students and teachers as they help keep both from burning out during the year. Breaks also provide teachers and administrators time to review data, refresh lesson plans based on that data, and prepare for the next unit of instruction.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) tracks and lists data and results for all schools in Minnesota. View DaVinci Academy’s School Report Card to see information about our school demographics, test results, academic progress and performance and more.
In 2016, DaVinci Academy was named a Reward School for the 6th year in a row. DaVinci Academy is one of only 3 Minnesota charter schools that have received the Reward School designation for all six years since the Multiple Measurement rating (MMR) system was introduced in 2011-12.
Also in 2016, DaVinci Academy was one of the eight schools in Minnesota to be nominated by the Commissioner of Education to apply to be a National Blue Ribbon School. In 2015, out of the 335 Blue Ribbon Schools nationwide, only 15 were charter schools. (more…)
DaVinci Academy’s Intersession Program offers students additional opportunities to grow and learn. During intersessions, regular classes are suspended and students are given the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of a particular subject area of their choosing. Intersession is voluntary and curriculum costs vary depending on the topics being offered.
Differentiated instruction is a teaching discipline based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted for individual students in the classroom. Differentiated instruction provides students with multiple options for taking in information, making sense of the ideas being presented, and showing mastery. At DaVinci Academy, differentiated instruction is used in every subject. Classroom teaching is a blend of whole-class, group and individual instruction.
The Core Knowledge Sequence movement is an educational reform based on the premise that a grade-by-grade core of common learning is necessary to ensure a sound and fair education. Simply put, knowledge builds on knowledge. The more you know, the more you are able to learn. The movement was started by Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and The Schools We Need, and is based on a large body of research in cognitive psychology, as well as a careful examination of several of the world’s fairest and most effective school systems. Due to the completeness and rigor of the curriculum, students are able to achieve the most important goals for education — greater reading comprehension, the ability to think critically and solve problems, and higher test scores.
In serving the needs of all students, we provide special education services as required by state and federal laws. Parents may request an assessment for their child to determine eligibility. That assessment will be administered by DaVinci Academy Special Education professionals. Our teachers may also recommend assessment. A Child Study Team reviews the needs of each identified student before testing begins.
See Policy 608 for more information on special educational services.
Activities vary from season to season; some activities are through the school and others are contracted out through private organizations that the school has screened. We are steadily expanding extra-curricular opportunities for our students, both in athletics and in arts and science.