In May of 2017, the French American School of Arizona began the process of applying for a charter to launch a new school in the name of the French American Academy of Arizona. This new school will continue the dual language immersion programs currently in place at FrenchAm for Kindergarten and Elementary students. Below you’ll find answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed Charter School:
Where are we in the charter process?
On 9/18/17 we submitted revisions to our application to the state and those revisions are being reviewed by a panel of independent technical reviewers.
When will we know for sure if it’s been approved?
A final decision won’t be reached by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools until December 2017.
What is the name of the proposed charter school?
The French American Academy of Arizona. The current preschool will continue to exist as the French American School of Arizona.
What grades will FrenchAm Academy serve?
Kindergarten through 5th grade.
When will the FrenchAm Academy start?
August 1, 2018
Will the school calendar change?
The yearly calendar will remain roughly the same but the weekly calendar will change. School will meet Monday through Thursday from 8am to 4pm. Friday is Teacher Planning Day for staff and Club Day for students. Students won’t be required to attend on Fridays but we’ll have child care available, as well as our usual after school clubs, French and English language support, and tutoring for students who may need help catching up.
Why a Monday – Thursday instructional week?
The 8-hour school day allows for longer blocks of time for instruction and for adequate recess, which is critical in supporting cognitive processing. Providing a dedicated day each week for Teacher Planning helps ensure the success of our program of instruction by allowing teachers time to prepare their lessons, asses student progress, communicate with peers and parents, and receive professional development.
Will we move to a new location?
Not in Year One! This is a new development. When we looked at our final enrollment count for this year, we realized we would be able to stay in our current location for the first year of the Academy. We will need to move in Year Two, the 2019-2020 school year.
Will the curriculum stay the same?
Short answer: yes. While we review curriculum every year and make changes/supplements based on changing French National Ministry of Education or AZ State standards, FrenchAm Academy will continue to offer the same teacher-led, dual language immersion program taught in French and English that we have now. Academy students will graduate the school having completed the Elementary programs of both languages.
Will there be any cost?
Charter Schools in Arizona are tuition-free, however because we are not fully funded by the state, we will seek to recoup those costs with fundraising. Local, similar charter schools (Great Hearts, BASIS, etc.) will typically ask each family to donate around $1,500 per year. That’s a huge savings for all of us who have been paying well more than that!
Can my children automatically transfer from the FrenchAm School to the FrenchAm Academy?
Short answer: No. In Year One, (2018-2019) all FrenchAm School of AZ students will need to enroll in the new FrenchAm Academy of AZ. It will be very important to watch your email, Facebook, etc., to be aware of the opening date for enrollment. At this time, we have been told we cannot legally hold a place for anyone in Year One. Once your child is registered at the school, their enrollment will continue until they graduate or leave.
Will there be any kind of placement testing?
Yes. ALL incoming students will receive a placement test to determine their level of French and English prior to registering. Current FrenchAm students will be able to have this test conveniently with Corinne as soon as their parents complete their enrollment paperwork. Once their level of French is determined, we can place them into the correct class for their level. New students wishing to attend will schedule their interviews for placement testing separately.
I have friends who want to send their children to the new charter Academy but they don’t speak French. Can they attend?
For Kindergarten: Yes, if we have room. We will have two Kindergarten classes, one for students who speak and understand French (Kindergarten A), and one for students who do not (Kindergarten B). Enrollment in each of these classes is determined based on the placement test that each student must take before registration can be completed. Space in each will be limited and we expect them to fill quickly.
For 1st Grade: If there is room, it would be dependent on the results of the placement test conducted before registration.
For 2nd – 5th Grade: While we would not restrict a child from enrolling at these grades, the fast pace and rigor of our dual language curriculum would very likely result in the child failing. In an immersion environment, it would be extremely difficult for a non-Francophone child to keep up with the class. In the best interests of the child, we would not encourage enrollment of a non-Francophone student at these late ages.
Will the class sizes stay the same?
For current Elementary students, yes. For incoming Kindergarteners in Year One, they’ll likely be in a class of 16 students throughout Elementary school. In subsequent years as we add additional Kindergarten classes and the school grows, the class sizes could grow to a maximum of 24 students. Current projections do not indicate this happening until the 2022-2023 school year.
Is there a website I can go for more info and updates?
Yes, we’ll post updates to both the existing FrenchAm School website, www.frencham.org, and our new site which is coming soon. Watch our Facebook page and the FrenchAm Parents group also.