Saturday, March 10, 2007

Charter Schools in the Twin Cities North Metro: Educational Alternatives without Private School Price

When my eldest son was in first grade, we were approached by a teacher in the KidU summer school program in Anoka, Minnesota, regarding his potential. During the regular school year, this teacher coordinated the gifted and talented program in a neighboring district. He wanted to make certain that we were aware of our son’s abilities and high potential. Though aware of our son’s language ability (he was reading at two after all), we were at a loss as to educational options. We had just moved to Ham Lake after living our entire lives in the North St. Paul/St. Paul area and were afraid that our alternatives might be limited as there were few private schools in the area. So we began to research our options and discovered some unique educational opportunities in the Twin Cities North Metro.

The Charter School Option


In 1991, Minnesota was the first state in the nation to open a charter school. Unlike a private school, charter schools are publicly funded and tuition free. In fact, two charter schools were opened that year. Since then over 3000 schools are now operating nationwide. These schools provide an alternative environment that is unique to each charter with a specific purpose of focus. Although many of these schools come and go, there are several in the north and east Twin Cities metro that have operated for several years and could be the perfect option for your family.Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake, MN
Grades: K-4 (currently)
Enrollment: 175

The Lakes International Language Academy is affectionately known as the “Forest Lake Spanish Immersion” school. Chartered in 2004 this elementary school has plans to expand to 6th grade and grow with its current student. Its program teaches a traditional curriculum while immersing students in the Spanish language to establish a high level efficiency in both spoken and written Spanish.
Math and Science Academy, Woodbury, MN
Grades 6-12
Enrollment: 300

Opened in 1999, the Math and Science Academy is, as its name suggests, a charter middle and high school with an emphasis on math and science classes along with the traditional required curriculum. MSA requires six years of Spanish for all students. Class sizes are approximately 20 students per class.
North Lakes Academy, Forest Lake, MN
Grades 6-9
Enrollment: 200

North Lakes Academy Charter Middle School is designed to provide a challenging academic opportunity with the rigor of a liberal art curriculum. Small classes are the cornerstone of the school with 20 or less students per class. All students are required to study music with a choice of band or choir, art and Spanish in addition to the traditional required subjects.
PACT , Ramsey, MN
Grades: K-12
Enrollment: 540 Students

Chartered in 1994 this is one of the originals and is still going strong. Now offering education for kindergarten through high school, PACT mission is to partner with parents, students and teachers to work collaboratively to attain a quality education. The educational program includes strong academics, a focus on character and a welcoming community
St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, St. Paul, MN
Grades 9-12
Enrollment: 150

This newer charter school option has really taken off since opening its doors in the historic Landmark Center in 2005. It’s unique forte is a combination of traditional high school curriculum with an emphasis on dance, drama and the performing arts. It location allows the use of the Ordway Center for theatrical instruction and the RiverCentre for dance instruction.

While these are the notable charter schools in the north and east metro Twin Cities, there are many other options throughout the Twin Cities metro. 


Alternatives within the Public Schools

Distance Learning through North Branch District #138

North Branch school district offers a distance learning option to students who would like a home-school environment with the assistance and guidance of a full-time teacher. In this program, the teacher would visit the student at his/her home once a month to provide materials and assignments for the month’s curriculum. During the month the teacher is available by email and telephone to assist the learning process. Weekly assignments are emailed to be reviewed and graded by the instructor.
Distance Learning in North Branch K-12

Montessori Education through Forest Lake District #831
Central Montessori Elementary School provides kindergarten through 6th grade students a Montessori based education as an option of the Forest Lake public school district. Montessori learning provides multiple ages within classes so students can learn at their own pace and move on to higher level material as they individually progress.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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