Frequently Asked Questions
Here you’ll find questions regarding enrollment, curriculum, charter schools in general and other information that many ask quite frequently at PCCS. If you have a specific question that you feel should be on this page or you just want to know please contact us.
Some Facts About Prairie Crossing Charter School
PCCS is chartered by the State of Illinois under the Illinois Charter School Law. (The statutory citation is 105 ILCS 5/Art. 27A.) The school is under the authority of the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”). Under the Illinois Charter School Law, a State chartered school must renew its charter agreement every five years. .ISBE first chartered PCCS in 1999 and renewed its charter in 2004, 2009. 2014 and most recently in 2019. The next renewal will take place in 2024.
At present, the school educates 432 students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. The school has been recognized for both its excellent education and for its commitment to the environment. PCCS has received numerous awards and honors during its 20 years of existence. A list of those awards and honors are provided here.
Below are many of the reoccurring questions that we receive, Realizing that we may not cover everyone’s specific questions we also ask you to contact our Executive Assistant and we will be happy to help you get started.
Is PCCS a public school? What is the tuition?
Yes. We are a Free Public School that provides a personalized Kindergarten through 8th Grade education for students that reside in the Woodland (50) and Fremont (79) Districts.
Does my child have to test in?
No. There are no entrance exams.
Isn’t that a school just for Prairie Crossing Residents?
No, Regardless of what the real estate folks tell you! The real answer is when we have more applications than we have available seats we hold a lottery and all interested in attending PCCS, including Prairie Crossing residents, have to apply for the lottery drawing just like every other child who resides in the Fremont and Woodland districts.
I am thinking about registering my student for the lottery, who do I contact to get information about the school and possibly take a tour?
Great Question! We do our best to keep all of the information on our enrollment webpage. We do hold open houses throughout the year and we give individual tours for those offered a open seat and are looking to find out more about our award-winning education.
Can’t everyone come to PCCS?
Unfortunately, no. Our Charter contract with the State only allows for a maximum capacity of 432 total students. Currently, PCCS limits our classroom size to 24 students per class.
What is the school’s position on PARCC and standardized testing?
We will continue to teach our students using the instructional practices that have resulted in academic excellence at PCCS for a number of years. The PARCC will help identify areas to improve our teaching, but we will not focus undue effort on teaching to this or any other test. Our student body’s academic achievement over the years speaks for itself and while all assessments are reviewed for their value to improve student performance, they do not solely guide our daily practice. At PCCS, any standardized test is just one snapshot into the academic life of a student. Teachers use a variety of formative and summative evaluations in order to achieve a more robust academic picture of the individual student. For PCCS’ position on standardized tests please click here.
How do you decide on placing children in looping classes or multi-age classes?
Several factors are taken in account by the teachers as they create class lists for the next year. Some of these include the composition of the new classroom, the personal strengths and needs of the student, and parental preference. All of these factors are considered to make the best placement for the child.
What are and Why do you do CP and SLP projects?
Service learning connects classroom and/or academic learning in a way that helps meet community needs. In service learning, students apply a broad range of skills and knowledge from different subjects to a problem or project that will help the community. It involves self-reflection and analysis – this reflection is essential to service learning. As we strive to create natural leaders at PCCS, all grades participate in Service Learning Projects.
In 7th and 8th grade these projects elevate to a Culminating Project where the students spend 18 months on a specific need of a community and work to resolve on a number of real issues. The results have ranged from changing legislation on a statewide scale, helping local residents, and providing alternate forms of energy for the school and in their community.
What books are read at each grade? Can you provide me with a book list?
Books and other texts at a variety of levels and complexity are read at each grade level. A book list can be obtained by contacting your classroom teacher. Book aren’t our only resources, besides relying on the natural surroundings outside, PCCS continues to introduce new innovative resources in the classroom in order to provide a unique learning experience for all students.
What curriculum do you use? Where can I find it on your website?
A list of curriculum used at each grade level can be found in the grade level curriculum guides on the curriculum page of the website. The Deans also can help answer any questions you may have in regards to the curriculum. They can be reached by contacting us.
How do you use the environment to teach math?
Math, Science, History, Arts , Music… in fact all of the disciplines can be found in the natural environment all the time. For Math, it may be the angle of the sun during cold and warm seasons, how a shadow reflects and in what direction and why, how much rain falls and then runs off of an impermeable surface compared to a permeable surface and/or the depth of soil that may be needed for a successful garden plot. All of these represent equations with answers and they all tie into our natural surroundings. The possibilities are endless and being outdoors provides an ever increasing palette for inquiry and wonder. When appropriate, we use the environment to teach concepts that can be readily observed and explored.
Do you have pull out classes?
If students qualify for tutoring in the area of reading or math, they may be pulled out of the classroom at appropriate times. Additionally, students who qualify for special education and related services may be pulled from the classroom as per their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Do you have a gifted program?
There is not a specific program for gifted. Our teachers differentiate the curriculum to make sure the students are challenged at the appropriate level. As a result 85% of our graduates enter high school in Honors or AP classes.
Can my student with special needs attend?
Yes. With a full complementary range of services our team supports students with varying needs including students deemed eligible for special education and related services. Contact our Director of Special Education and Student Services for more information.
Charter School Questions .
Why is your school day and school year longer than other public schools?
We have a longer school day and longer school year, with 45 minutes more instruction a day and two weeks more instruction a year. Not only is this mandated by Charter School law in Illinois, it also helps our students excel further than our surrounding districts.
Do you have busing?
Not yet. Although PCCS is a public school, we do not qualify for the appropriations of busing funding from the State like traditional public schools do. Instead, we do have transportation plans (as required by law) and we have had good success with the carpool system we currently use. We help families partner with other neighbors to work out carpool arrangements that fit their individual needs. In addition to the carpool option, PCCS contracts with 3rd Party school certified transport companies to help meet the needs for our students. We guarantee that if a student cannot find transportation to our school, the school will provide transportation so that the child may attend our school.
Do you “siphon” money from the neighboring school districts?
No. In Illinois, the money the State provides for public education follows the child. Charter Schools are not eligible to receive any property tax funding that other public schools are able to. Therefore, the State formulates a Per Capita Tuition Cost equal to that of our surrounding districts and reimburses PCCS 100% of that rate for the students that attend our school. On a balance spreadsheet it looks like charter schools receive more per student from the State than non chartered public schools but that is because those that claim we “siphon their money” usually forget to include the property tax funding they receive. Sometimes they forget to also recognize that it is not “their money”- it’s the State’s and it follows the child to the school they attend. In reality, PCCS receives less funding per child that attends our school than if that same child was enrolled in our surrounding district schools.