Somerset Academy Village’s
Frequently Asked Questions
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
Q: What is a Charter School?
A: A Charter School is a public school of choice that is state-funded but privately operated. Charter Schools have the autonomy and choice to set many of their own policies related to such things as curriculum delivery, parent involvement, discipline, and special programs; however charter schools, as public educational institutions, must maintain accountability academically, financially, and in all areas of legal and safety compliance.
Q: What is the difference between the many different charter schools that exist?
A: Each charter school is different. They are run by independent boards and each charter school corporation has its own philosophy, vision and focus that determine the type of experience you will have if your child attends that particular charter school. For example, some charter schools focus on dual-language programs or performing arts magnet-like focuses while others maintain single-gender classrooms.
Q: How do I know if Somerset Academy Village is the right school for my child?
A: Somerset has a strong academic focus and believes that each child should learn at his or her own pace, so we try to individualize our program to meet each child’s level and learning needs regardless of age. Our educational philosophy is based on some of the principles listed below:
- Somerset Academy believes that a school should be a place where students love to learn, teachers love to teach, and parents are a key part of the educational process.
- We believe that students work “up” to standards that are set for them and so we set high expectations for all of our students.
- We believe in a “teaching by doing” approach to instruction and incorporate “hands on” activities in all of our instruction.
- We believe that all students can and will learn.
- We believe that each learner is unique; therefore we structure our academic program to meet the needs of each individual learner. We also allow learners to work at their own pace and engage in activities that meet different learning styles and levels simultaneously.
- We implement a program that will not only focus on a well-rounded educational program, but one that also has strong emphasis in college preparatory curriculum.
- We also involve our students in a number of community projects that teach them to connect learning to the “real world” both locally and globally.
- We believe learning should be fun.
We encourage you to schedule some time to speak to our staff and get to know the Somerset team. We are always happy to answer any specific questions you may have.
Q: Do I have to pay to attend a charter school?
A: No. Since charter schools are publicly funded, K-12 students attend tuition FREE.
Q: What grades does Somerset Academy Village have?
A: We have K-8th grade at our campus.
Q: Can you give me some general background information about Somerset Academy?
A: Somerset was one of the first charter schools to open in south Florida in 1997. It was opened by parents and community members who wanted a school that maintained a strong neighborhood-school feel by (1) maintaining an open-door policy and high level of parent involvement, (2) by personalizing the academic program for each student, and (3) by delivering the curriculum in creative, hands-on and innovative ways. Today, Somerset Academy has numerous PK – 12th grade campuses in south, central and northern Florida. Visit www.somersetacademyschools.com for more information about our schools.
Q: Are Somerset Academy Village teachers certified?
A: Yes. Our teachers and administrators are certified and highly qualified in their subject areas and meet the Florida state requirements for certification the same as any traditional public school educator.
Q: Does Somerset Academy require uniforms?
A: Yes. Both staff and students are required to wear uniforms. Uniforms at Somerset Academy Village will consist of polo shirts for elementary and middle school (royal blue, orange, or white) with navy blue, black or khaki bottoms. Middle school students also have the option of the button down Oxford collared short or long sleeve shirt (white only). Elementary students may wear skorts, shorts, capris, pants, or jumpers. Secondary students may wear pants, appropriate length shorts or capris. Specific Physical Education uniforms, Spirit Shirts for Fridays and field trips, and cold-weather clothing will also be required. Additional uniform specifications may be found on our website.
Q: Do you provide transportation?
A: Most of our parents participate in our carpool system to get their child to school. Students may also walk or ride their bikes to school. Buses are available and provided for certain students, as well; please discuss this with the office if you have specific questions.
Q: Do you offer food services?
A: Yes. Breakfast and lunch will be available for all students for a fee of $2.50 for breakfast and $3.50 for lunch. Free and reduced meal applications are also available for families experiencing financial hardship.
Q: Does your school get graded?
A: Yes. All charter schools get graded the same as a traditional public schools. Somerset Academy has an excellent record of academic performance and, as a district, is one of the top performing school districts in the state. You can see our results by visiting www.somersetacademyschools.com and clicking the link “results.”
Q: Is Somerset Academy accredited?
A: Yes. All Somerset Academy schools are accredited as a district by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Q: Do you follow the same calendar as Broward County public schools?
Q: What are the school hours?
A: Hours will vary based on student enrollment. Most of our schools establish staggered drop off and pick up times to ensure an efficient flow of traffic during carpool and to allow for extended school days when necessary. Elementary school is required to attend school for at least 6 hours, middle school for 6.5 hours and high school for 7 hours. Hours are typically similar to but may vary slightly from those of the surrounding traditional public schools. This year, kindergarten-2nd grade instructional hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. while 3rd-8th grade instructional hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m..
Q: Do you provide before and after school care?
A: Yes, we offer a fee-based program for before and after school care. Our morning care program begins at 6:45 a.m. Our aftercare program begins at dismissal time and ends at 6:00 p.m. These programs provide homework assistance, recreation, and enrichment activities.
Q: What are the costs of your Morning Care and After Care program?
A: A non-refundable registration fee of $25.00 is required per child enrolled. For both morning and afternoon care there are monthly fees. For further information please stop by the front office.
Q: What happens if my children get dismissed at different times?
A: Somerset offers Sibling Care and within our aftercare program. We supervise younger siblings from their earlier dismissal time until their older siblings are able to come and pick them up at their later dismissal time.
Q: How can parents get involved at Somerset?
A: Somerset Academy has a strong belief in the power of parent involvement. It is the formula “parents + teachers + students = partners in excellence” that is a fundamental building block of the success of our school program. Parents can get involved in many ways such as by joining our School Advisory Council, by being a part of the school PTA, by volunteering as a room mom or dad, or by joining our Parent Action Committee. Parents can also help day to day by helping with anything from carpool and lunch duty to field trips and special events. Parents can volunteer school wide and in individual classrooms. They can help with fundraising, book fairs, holiday activities, and more. The opportunities are endless. Each time you volunteer, you will also be earning credit toward completing your volunteer hour obligation as part of our re-enrollment requirement.
Q: Where can I get more information on your school?
OUR ACADEMIC PROGRAM
Q: What is your school’s curriculum?
A: The primary goal of any school is to educate the children. In order to do that, the school must have a strong, structured, and spiraling curriculum that meets the needs of students at different academic levels and with different learning styles. Somerset Academy has this type of program and includes both traditional and alternative approaches for instructing our students of all levels. Our curriculum is the common core and all of the courses and curriculum materials used are in alignment with those standards.
All of these curricular programs are aligned to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind, to meet the requirements of the Broward County Pupil Progression Plan (Policy 6000.1), and to meet the grade level proficiency expectations of Florida’s Sunshine State Standards. By incorporating multiple learning systems at Somerset, we believe that we can create the best possible program for each individual learner while also making learning an exciting and enjoyable experience.
Q: Do you incorporate technology into your academic program?
A: Somerset also offers a state-of-the-art technology to enhance each child’s learning experience. The school is equipped with such things as stationary and mobile computer labs, Promethean Boards in each room, Document Imaging Cameras, and numerous classroom net books (laptops). In addition, many computer-based software programs are used; some of these include Accelerated Reader, Carnegie Cognitive Tutor, and Successmaker..
Q: Do you have a gifted program?
A: Yes. Each school meets the needs of gifted students in different ways depending on the population of gifted students and a student’s EP.
Q: My child has an IEP. Do you offer ESE services?
A: Yes. Each school meets the needs of ESE students in different ways depending on the student’s IEP. Please schedule a meeting with our ESE Specialist to better understand our ESE program.
Q: My child doesn’t speak English well. Do you offer help for this?
A: Yes. All Somerset schools have various classes and assistance programs to meet the needs of students who are Limited English Proficient to help them succeed in language development and in our academic program. Please schedule a meeting with our ESOL coordinator for additional information.
Q: Do you offer special area classes and electives?
A: Yes, we will offer a variety of special area classes such as Physical Education, Art, Music, Library/Research, Foreign Language and Computers depending on our student interest and enrollment. Other electives such as Health, Band, Chorus, Intensive Reading and Math, Study Skills, Peer Counseling, Drama, Television Production and other elective classes will be considered. Electives are determined based on the requirements outlined in the SB Policy 6000.1 Pupil Progression Plan and student interest.
Q: What extracurricular programs will you offer?
A: We offer a variety of extracurricular programs. These programs range from sports to tutoring to clubs. Generally, programs such as martial arts, chorus, art, foreign language, cheerleading, and dance are offered after school and run through private companies on our campus. These are determined on a year to year basis and are driven by student and parent interest.
Q: Will you offer competitive sports? If so, which ones?
A: Somerset Academy Village will offer competitive sports for secondary students in grades 6-12. Sports offered will vary based on student interest. Each Somerset campus offers a variety of sports such as cheerleading, basketball, football, volleyball and soccer. Each campus competes against different schools, both public, private and charter.
Q: Do Somerset Academy Village students have to take state tests?
A: Yes. As a public school, we are accountable to the state and must administer the state test to our students. We prepare our students daily through teaching the Common Core standards and not “teaching to the test.” As a Broward County public charter school, we are also required to abide by the Pupil Progression Plan (SB Policy 6000.1) as it pertains to student promotion requirements. However, there is a variety of assessment methods used to determine student promotion – not just the state test.
Q: Does my child have to pass the state test prior to graduation?
A: All students attending Somerset will have to meet all State of Florida graduation requirements. That includes passing the state test and course specific requirements.
Q: When and where can I register?
A: The registration packet for new students wishing to enroll for the 2016 – 2017 school year is posted on our website. Once completed, this form will need to be submitted to the office on or before April 4th.
As applications are accepted, parents will receive a lottery number. On April 11 the lottery numbers of the applications that were chosen will be posted on our website. Those families will have until April 21 to submit all necessary documentation to hold that child’s seat. If you have any questions about this process please call us at 954-390-0971.
Additional registration dates and times will be posted on our website. Please note that all documentation specified on the registration form must be submitted in order to be considered for lottery registration.
Q: Do you have a lottery? If so, how does it work?
A: Yes, we are required to use a lottery process for enrollment when there are more enrollment applications than there are student seats available.
Here’s how it works:
- When you register and submit a completed registration packed, you will be given a lottery number.
- After the open enrolment period ends, the computer randomly selects lottery numbers until the number of seats available in the grade level is full.
- The remaining numbers are placed on a wait list and called in as openings become available.
- We then post all selected numbers on our website. You can log onto the website to see if your lottery number was pulled. If selected, you will be required to contact us within three (3) school days of the lottery posting to confirm and reserve your child’s seat. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can always call the school to find out the lottery results for your application(s).
Q: How do I confirm my child’s acceptance?
A: You may confirm your child’s registration by calling us at (954) 390-0971, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and or faxing (954) 390-0972 a letter of acceptance to Mrs. Smith. Be sure to tell us you are accepting and list your child’s name and grade.
IMPORTANT: If we do not hear you within three (3) business days, we will assume you are NOT accepting your child’s seat, and we will remove your registration application from our files.
Q: What do I need in order to register?
A: In order to register, you will need to have completed and submitted the following documents to the school:
- A completed registration packet
- A copy of your child’s birth certificate
- Two forms proving that you reside at the listed address (such as a driver’s license and utility bill).
- Up to date health and immunization forms (the originals – one is blue and the other is yellow)
- Previous reports cards and academic transcripts including standardized test reports
- A copy of your child’s current health insurance coverage (for the required student accident insurance documentation).
- A copy of your child’s final report card no later than June 15th, 2011.
If your child is coming from a Broward County public school, we will request these records for you, and you will need only to fill out the completed registration form. Please remember that we must have ALL required documents in order for your registration application to be considered complete.
Q: Are there any contracts or other special requirements to be a part of your school?
A: Yes, we do require all parents and students to sign the following:
The Somerset Code of Conduct
The Broward County Code of Conduct (distributed on the first day of school)
A Parent Volunteer Application and Contract (A minimum of 30 and a maximum of 40 volunteer hours are required per family. Please see contract for more details.)
An agreement to follow the guidelines listed in our school Handbook. (To read a copy of our current Handbook, please go to our website and click on the link for our Parent/Student Handbook.) These documents are all included in our Registration Packet.
Q: How old does my child have to be to register?
A: For Kindergarten, your child has to be 5-years-old by September 1st of the current school year. If your child is coming from another country or a private school and is in a grade above their age-level grade, you will have to show proof of promotion to the next grade level on a final Report Card signed by the principal or headmaster of the school. Final authorization of this grade placement is determined by the Principal.
Q: Am I able to take a tour of the school?
A: Yes. Tours are being given monthly. Please call the office at (954) 390-0971 to be placed on our list for scheduled tours.
Q: What are the procedures for Re-registration?
A: To be eligible for re-registration, students must have half their amount of hours completed and have no financial obligations.
Q: What are Volunteer Hours?
A: Somerset Academy has a strong belief in the power of parent involvement. It is the formula “parents + teachers + students = partners in excellence” that is a fundamental building block of the success of our school program. All parents are required to complete a minimum of 30 to 40 volunteer hours per school year depending on the number of children you have attending the school and what grades they are in. If you wish to volunteer on a daily basis or in direct contact with children, the Jessica Lunsford Act requires that you be screened through Broward County Public Schools. Please inquire about obtaining fingerprint clearance through the office. Additionally, if you wish to volunteer weekly or even daily in the school, we would love your assistance; however please be aware that you will not be permitted to spend this volunteer time only in your child’s classroom. Parent volunteers are always needed for carpool and lunch supervision and assistance. Please contact the office to volunteer to help in these much needed areas.