Charter School FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions – Khalsa Montessori Elementary School

What is an Arizona charter school?

A charter school in Arizona is a publicly funded school operated through a charter approved by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, the Arizona Department of Education or a public school district. The Arizona Legislature passed a charter school law that created the first charter schools in 1995. Khalsa Montessori Elementary (KMES) was the first school approved by the State Board for Charter Schools in 1996 (the second year of the charter legislation). KMES was recently unanimously approved for a second 15 year charter school contract by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.

What is in a charter school’s charter?

The charter contains the school’s history, goals, mission statement, educational philosophy, curriculum, assessments, organizational structure, operational and financial plan, special education policies, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The KMES charter is available for review in the Khalsa Montessori Administration Office.

Are there tuition or enrollment fees paid for charter school enrollment?

No, there are no tuition or enrollment fees. The school is paid by the state per child according to the students’ attendance. KMES does have an Activity Fee for field trips, art supplies, and special programs. The current fee is $300/child per year for a Primary kindergarten student, $400/child per year for Lower Elementary (grades 1-3), $500/child per year for Upper Elementary (grades 4-6), and $1,240/child per year for Middle School. There is a discount for lower income families according to Income Eligibility Guidelines. For charter Kindergarten students, the Khalsa Montessori Primary School offers a morning half-day program for which private school tuition fees are charged. This supplements the half-day charter program paid by the state.

When is a child eligible for the charter school?

Any child who is 5 years old before September 1st of a given school year is eligible for Kindergarten enrollment. Any child who is 6 before September 1st is eligible for first grade enrollment.

How do I enroll my child in Khalsa Montessori Elementary?

Enrollment in KMES is first-come, first-served based on the date and time the enrollment application is received in the KMES office. A one-year waiting list is opened at the start of school year registration for next year’s enrollment. Any current four-year-old child who will be five years old before the coming year September 1st may be signed up on the KMES waiting list after the opening of the KMES school year registration in late July. Call the office for KMES school year registration dates and times.

My child has a fall birth date and entered Khalsa Primary before age 3 or entered a Kindergarten program before age 5, will he/she enter Khalsa Kindergarten at age 4 and first grade at age 5?

No, children must be 5 before September 1st to be considered Khalsa Kindergarten students and 6 before September 1st to be first grade students. Over our 30-year history we have consistently seen the advantage of not pushing a child ahead. This is for social and emotional, as well as academic reasons.

Do Khalsa Primary children have priority for enrollment into KMES?

No, because of state open enrollment laws, we accept all students on a first-come, first-served basis. Families of current Khalsa Primary 4-year old students are encouraged to submit their Kindergarten application to the school office as soon as possible after the opening of the waiting list for the child’s Kindergarten year.

Is Kindergarten private or charter?

It is both. Khalsa Montessori Elementary School (charter) contracts Kindergarten education to Khalsa Montessori Primary School (Private). Khalsa offers half-day (12:30pm-3:00pm) charter Kindergarten at no charge. Parents can also enroll students for the full day Kindergarten by adding the Khalsa Montessori Primary School morning (8:30-12:30) program for which private school tuition is required.

Are Khalsa Montessori Elementary School and Khalsa Primary one or two schools?

Khalsa Montessori School is one school with one educational philosophy, Montessori curriculum, administration, newsletter, and Parent Teacher Organization. Operationally, it functions in two ways: 1) as a charter Elementary; and 2) as a private Primary school. Both schools are 501-c-3 non-profit Arizona corporations, but separate from one another. Each has its own Board of Directors.

Is there any difference in curriculum between the private Primary and the charter Elementary school?

No, changes in expectations and curriculum content, from one level to the next, are a natural part of the Montessori approach. This allows the instruction to meet the needs of students at different developmental stages.

How does the charter school fund classroom materials, land purchases, and building improvements?

Charter schools are paid a monthly per child allotment by the state for charter students enrolled. At the beginning of our charter, state stimulus funds funded about 1/10th of our initial startup costs. KMES has funded land purchases and building improvements primarily through loans. We have received no state or federal funds for building purchases and improvements after the initial startup funds. Unlike district schools, we have monthly mortgage payments. Classroom material purchases as with building improvements are paid primarily through the school general fund. Donations and Khalsa PTO fundraising has also assists KMES with classroom material purchases and building improvements.

Are there any state requirements that effect how we run the Elementary charter school?

All charter schools are required to follow state financial, procurement, open meeting, open enrollment and special education laws. We are also required to submit a variety of financial and data collection reports and complete annual audits. We maintain a student database that is compliant with the state system. All students, grades 3-8, are required to take the yearly state mandated standardized tests.