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Frequently Asked Questions

 

we are BR

Black River Public School is a public charter school open to any student living in Michigan, regardless of geographic boundary. Admission is based on a fair and random lottery which is held each year in early March. For a student to be entered into the lottery, an application must be submitted during the Open Enrollment period, which runs from October 2 to the last Wednesday in February by 4:00 p.m. The enrollment lottery application can be found in the Black River website News Feed and on the Admissions page beginning on October 2.

Each year the Black River faculty and staff receive many questions about enrollment, the enrollment lottery, and admissions into Black River Public School. The following are answers to the most frequently asked questions.

 

When and where can I obtain a Black River Public School enrollment application for the 2024-2025 school year? 

Enrollment lottery applications are submitted online and information submitted to Black River is confidential. A link to the enrollment lottery application can be found on the Admission page of the website during the open enrollment period. Post-lottery applications can be found on the same page after the open enrollment period ends. Families are still encouraged to apply post-lottery.

Parents/legal guardians need to fill out a separate enrollment lottery application for EACH student. Entering a sibling's name and grade on one application does not them in the lottery without a separate application.

For those who do not have access to a computer with internet access, please contact Kelli Heneghan, Enrollment Coordinator, at 616-355-0055 x 116 to schedule an appointment to fill out the application.

 

Is there any advantage given for returning an application early?

No, all applications accepted during the Open Enrollment period receive equal treatment. Applications submitted post-lottery will be placed on the waitlist in order they are received and after all applicants that entered into the lottery. We always tell families your best chance of getting into Black River is to apply during the Open Enrollment period.

 

Does our family need to live in a certain District or near the school to apply to Black River? 

No, Black River Public School is a stand-alone, not-for-profit charter school. Students can live in ANY surrounding district to apply for enrollment at Black River Public School. Please remember, Black River does not provide student transportation to and from school.

 

Can we apply for the enrollment lottery if we live out of state?

Yes, families should use their current address when filling out the enrollment application for the lottery. Simply email the enrollment office when your address changes or you have moved to Michigan. Students must have a Michigan address before the first day of attendance at Black River Public School.

 

My student did not get into Black River Public School last school year. Do I need to enter my student into the lottery each year or does their spot on the waitlist from a previous lottery automatically roll over?

Lottery results and waitlist numbers do not carry over from year to year. If your student is not currently enrolled at Black River then you need to fill out an enrollment lottery application for your student. The enrollment lottery is random and your chances do not improve by applying for multiple years. 

 

I have a student that is already enrolled at Black River. Do I need to enter them in the lottery each year?

No, if your student is currently enrolled at Black River Public School then they are automatically enrolled the next school year. If your student has a sibling that is NEW to Black River, you must enter that sibling into the enrollment lottery. Siblings are not automatically enrolled but do have a priority in the lottery.  

 

Do siblings of current students need to have an enrollment application submitted?

Yes, ALL prospective new students, including those who are siblings of current Black River Public School students, need to have an enrollment application on file. Current students do not need to reapply or enter the lottery.

The definition of sibling we are using is "each of two or more children having one or both parents in common through birth or legal adoption." Cousins are NOT siblings. 

 

Can I decline enrollment for a specific school year and still apply for a future lottery?

Yes, families are not commiting to Black River Public School simply by entering the enrollment lottery. Your lottery application is private and your current school will not be made aware of your choice to enter the lottery. After the lottery is held in early March, families will be asked to decide whether they accept enrollment at Black River or decline. If a family declines enrollment for their student and changes their mind after declining, they can always fill out a new application post-lottery if it is the upcoming school year or enter again for another school year.

 

Can I still enroll at Black River Public School after the Open Enrollment period has ended and the lottery was held?

Yes, if you miss the enrollment lottery, families are still encouraged to apply. Not all grades will have a waitlist and even if a grade has a waitlist, we often move through the waitlist as the summer ends. Enrollment at Black River occurs in two cycles; from the lottery to the beginning of the school year (for all grades) and again before the second semester starts (for the elementary grades). You can check on waitlist numbers or enrollment openings by emailing the enrollment coordinator.

 

Does Black River Public School charge a tuition for attendance?

No, Black River is tuition-free public school. We receive the same mandated State funding as all other public schools in Michigan. However, we cannot participate in additional tax millages for more school and facilities funding like a traditional public school. Black River has to be a good steward of the funds provided by the State and we work hard to make sure we are providing everything our students need with a smaller budget.  

 

Can we set up a tour of Black River Public School? 

We request that all prospective families place the annual Enrollment Open House on their calendars. The Open House is on a Saturday in February and is the only opportunity to visit Black River before your enrollment decision must be made. We will have several admitted student tours in late May and the summertime but these are for students already accepted to Black River.

 

How do I know you have received my student application(s) for the lottery?

Don't forget to enter your email address with your signature at the end of your lottery application. When you provide an email address you will receive a copy of your form submission which is the confirmation of entry into the enrollment lottery. Please double-check your application and watch for auto-fill mistakes BEFORE submission. Application mistakes are often caught when parents check their submitted application via the email sent after applying. If a mistake is made, please email (we must have your email address on file to submit changes) Kelli Heneghan, Enrollment Coordinator, at heneghank@brpk12.org. Thank you for using email so we have a record of the change.  

 

How many students will be admitted into Black River Public School each year?

Black River Elementary Montessori Kindergarten has three classrooms, each with 22 students and one Montessori teacher with a full-time Montessori-trained classroom aide. By priority, kindergarten openings are first filled with our siblings and full-time staff members' students. While there is no guarantee, we have never had more than 66 siblings/staff children apply so we usually can accommodate all of our current families that have an incoming kindergartner. Open seats are then filled in the lottery. Grades 1-5 usually have a few openings each year as families move or make changes in their student's enrollment status.

For middle/high school, we have a number of openings in grade 6 as we move from 66 students to 80 students at the 6-8 grade levels and again in grade 9 as we work to seat 80-90 students per grade level. Each year we have several openings at all grades 6-12. For more information on the admission priorities please click here.

 

When will our family know the lottery results and how are we notified?

Families are notified of enrollment or waitlist status in by April 1, 2023. Families will receive a letter through the USPS first-class mail delivery. You can also contact the enrollment office after April 5 if you have not received a letter with enrollment status. Please keep your contact information up to date. 

Lottery results and waitlist numbers will not be posted online.

 

What happens if our student is placed on the waitlist?

Each year we have more applications than student openings, especially in grades K-5. When this happens students are placed on an ordered list by grade level, with the order established by a drawing at the enrollment lottery. In other words, the student who is No. 1 on the wait list will be the first person contacted if/when there is an available seat at his/her grade level.

BRPS typically goes to the waitlist to admit students. In fact, we often tell parents not to get discouraged if their student is placed on the waitlist. Most enrollment openings and changes are made after the lottery has taken place. Parents and guardians make school decisions at the end of the current school year and during the summer months which does not align with the lottery. Every year we see quite a bit of movement on our waitlists and while it is difficult to predict which grades will have more changes there is always a lot. 

Families are notified using the same email address used to apply for enrollment. From April 2024 - June 2024, parents and guardians are given 48 hours to respond to the enrollment opening with a decision. Please monitor your email and phone in the summer. We will not extend this decision deadline because a family is on vacation and not checking email. Families can contact the enrollment office anytime to check on their waitlist status.From July 1 - the beginning of the school year, parents and guardians are given 24 hours to respond to the enrollment opening with a decision. Please monitor your email and phone as this time goes quickly. Once your decision is given to BRPS, you will have additional days to work on the enrollment paperwork.

NOTE: When you decline enrollment for one student, ALL siblings will be removed from the waitlist unless a family specifically asks for a sibling(s) to stay on the waitlist. We have found that parents usually wish to keep siblings in the same district and will hold waitlist spots with no intention of enrollment so this rule will be followed without exception.   

If vacancies emerge during the school year, BRPS may go onto its waitlist to fill them. We will fill openings during the semester break in December, never during the semester. 

Students retain their position on the waitlist for the entirety of the school year. Parents and guardians can remove their student from the wait list at any time.  

 

When one of my students enrolled then are my other students automatically enrolled or moved up on the waitlist? 

When you are enrolling multiple students and one is enrolled, it does not necessarily mean that all of your students will get into Black River for the school year you have applied for. Your student's wait list number is determined at the lottery based on the priority system. Once the lottery is complete wait lists move only when we have an enrollment opening occur. If you have an admitted student then you will have a higher priority for the next lottery cycle. Admission priorities can be found in the Admission Policies.

 

Does Black River Public School offer a remote program for students?

Black River Public School does not offer a remote curriculum for our students. 

 

Does my elementary student have to attend a Montessori preschool to attend Black River Elementary Montessori school?

No, if your student has never attended a Montessori classroom then they will certainly adapt quickly.  Parents and guardians can always help with the transition by explaining what makes a Montessori classroom unique and maybe quite different from the school they currently attend.  

Montessori classrooms are laid out with the intent of letting the children control their own learning. Desks are replaced with small tables that are scattered around the room. Our classrooms even have rugs, cushion seating, and some individual seating just in case a child would rather work on their own.

Montessori materials are placed in plain wood shelves which are short and open, so students can easily access the various activities and learning games. Once a student takes an activity from the shelf, they can choose to sit on a rug, stand at a table, or sprawl out on the floor. Movement and kinesthetic learning is important in a Montessori classroom.

Something else your student will notice is the different ages of the children. Our lower elementary (grades 1-3) and upper elementary (grades 4-5) are not separated into ages by one year. Montessori classes are created in multi-age groups based on developmental range allowing for students to truly learn at their own pace.

 

Does Black River Public School provide transportation for students?

No, Black River Public School does not have bussing that transports students to and from school. We do have transportation to and from sporting events for our coaches and athletes, as well as busses that we use often for off-campus field trips and experiences. Several after-school care programs in the Holland-area do pick up students as part of their after-school care program but this is done independently from BRPS. At this time, Lakeshore Little People, Treehouse, and Gilden Woods have buses that are in our Car Line. Please check with these businesses as this can change with each new school year.

 

Will my student receive a tablet or laptop to use during the school year?

Our elementary students have a technology special and designated classroom time in the Media Center so there is no need for one-to-one technology. At the middle/high school grades, students are able to bring their own technology (guidelines are provided by the Technology Director) or they can be issued a school-provided Chromebook.

Black River Public School has partnered with Securly, a device management and monitoring program, to assist us in keeping our students safe and on task when they are logged into their school devices. As we work to help students learn how to self-monitor while using a device and remain on task when there are many ways to become distracted online, our teachers are utilizing Securly Classroom. This feature will allow teachers to watch students' screens in real-time and see what websites they have open, lock, and unlock their screens, as well as lock students to a particular site. This will only be enacted during school hours and it is not possible for teachers to activate the Chromebook camera or microphone or use this service for unobserved surveillance. If you have any questions regarding the use of Securly or Securly Classroom at BRPS, please contact Caleb Fisher in our technology department at fisherc@brpsk12.org.

 

Are there any admission requirements or a certain GPA my student must have to attend the middle/high school?

No, our admission is done through the lottery process. We do not ask for any grades or student information during the lottery. Selective enrollment is a common misconception around charter schools. We have a diverse and authentic representation of our community. All students can succeed at Black River.

 

Kindergarten Entry Questions:

Question Answer       
What is the age my child must be
to enter kindergarten in the fall of 2024?
 Children who are 5 on or before September 1, 2024
are automatically eligible for kindergarten in the fall of 2024.
Is it possible for me to enroll my child
in kindergarten this year if he/she turns
5 after September 1, 2024 but on or before
December 1, 2024?

Yes, if you intend to enroll your child as an "Early-K" 
student, you will simply fill out the lottery form. We will
check the birthdate on receipt of the application and note
that you are applying under the "Early-K" time. Parents will be
be asked to fill out an Early-K Acknowledgement Form. after
their student has been accepted to BRPS.

Who decides if my child who turns 5 by
December 1, 2024 is ready for kindergarten?
School districts may make a recommendation to 
parents about whether a child is ready to enroll in
kindergarten, but the parent always has the right to decide
whether or not to enroll their child.

Does Black River Public School conduct a kindergarten screening to determine kindergarten readiness before the enrollment lottery?

Black River Public School does not have an Early-K program like some traditional public schools. Kindergarten screenings are set up for admitted students only and this is only to access current abilities. This screening is not used for placement. Your student must meet the State age requirements to attend kindergarten and all admitted early K students are placed in one of our three kindergarten classrooms. 

 

My student receives Special Services or has an Individualized Learning Plan. Can Black River Public School provide support for my students Special Education services?

Yes, Black River has the SAME support services as our surrounding traditional public schools. We have

  • Title I Resources
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Literacy Coach
  • English Language Learner Specialist
  • Special Education, Individualized Learning and 504 Plans
  • Resource Rooms
  • Social Workers, both in the elementary and middle/high school
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Speech Therapist
  • Guidance Counselor
  • Senior Advisor