Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charter school? 

  • A charter school is a non-profit, public school.  In Washington all charters are required to serve at-risk scholars such as scholars with disabilities, English Language Learners, low-income scholars and scholars of color.  All scholars are welcome to attend.  

  • Charters are public schools that operate separately from the traditional school district.  Charters are approved by a state commission and are governed by a board of directors.

  • Charter schools were approved by Washington voters via a ballot initiative in 2012.

 

Who can attend a charter school/Catalyst?  

  • Any scholar in the state of Washington is eligible to attend.  While Catalyst hopes to launch in Bremerton, scholars do not need to live or currently attend school in Bremerton to attend Catalyst.

 

When did Catalyst open?

  • Catalyst opened in the fall of 2020.

  • In our first year we will serve scholars in grades K, 1, 5, and 6.  As those scholars grow we will add grades each year until we serve scholars in grades K-8. 

  • Eventually we would like to open a high school but we are focusing on the K-8 school first.

 

Where is Catalyst located?

  • Catalyst will be located at 1305 Ironsides Avenue in Bremerton.  We will occupy the old Manette School and are renovating it to make it an exceptional learning space.  

 

Why does Bremerton need a charter school?  

  • All children are different.  We believe that having more public school options for families is a good thing.  At Catalyst we will offer some programs that aren’t available to all families currently.  We will offer an extended school day and year, and an environment where every child is deeply known and loved.  Our school focuses on the leadership development of our scholars so that they can be change makers in their community and world.  

 

Is there a cost to attend?

  • No.  Catalyst is a tuition-free, public school that is open to all scholars regardless of background, ability, or zip code.  

What is the average class size and how many scholars will attend?

  • In the elementary school our scholar to teacher ratio will be at or less than 17:1.  

  • We will have 2 classes of scholars per grade.

  • While we will keep our classes a traditional size (28 scholar/room), most of our classes (especially in grades K-5) will be co-taught with 2 adults.  

  • When we are fully enrolled our elementary school will be 280 scholars and our middle school will be 224 scholars.  

 

Will my child lose a seat at their current school if we decide to enroll at Catalyst?

  • No.  Your child’s seat at their current or planned school will be kept safe until your child begins attending Catalyst.  

 

I’ve heard that charter schools are private schools--is that true?

  • No.  In Washington all charter schools are non-profit entities that are public schools.  Some states allow for-profit charter schools but these are NOT allowed in WA.  

 

I’ve heard that charter schools take resources away from district schools--is that true?

  • All school districts in Washington state allow for parent choice and open enrollment.  

  • Funding in public schools follows the scholar.  Whichever school the child enrolls in receives the funding from the state.  Charter schools do not take resources from other schools--parents choose where they want their children to go and the funding follows them.  This is similar to what happens if a child enrolls in a neighboring school district or participates in a program like Running Start.

 

I’ve heard that charters take only the top scholars--is that true?

  • Charter schools are public schools and ALL scholars can attend.  At Catalyst, we aim to serve all types of scholars and anticipate enrolling many scholars traditionally considered “at-risk.”  We are developing our school to serve all scholars well.  

 

Will you provide transportation?

  • We offer regionalized school bus transportation with stops across Silverdale, East and West Bremerton, and Port Orchard.

 

Will you provide school lunch?

  • Yes.  We provide healthy school breakfasts and lunches.  Students who quality will receive lunch at a reduced price or for free.  Families who do not will pay for meals for their child(ren).  Families will be encouraged to provide a snack for their children.  

 

Will students wear a uniform?

  • We will work with founding families this year to determine if there will be a uniform.  We anticipate that there will be one that will consist of khaki style pants and a polo shirt with the Catalyst logo.  Families will be able to purchase uniform pieces from a provider in Bremerton.

 

Will there be a playground?

  • We are building a playground onsite at the school.  While the playground equipment has been ordered it is delayed due to supply chain issues.  We anticipate the equipment arriving in October of 2022 and being installed as soon as possible thereafter.  We will have onsite play space in the interim.

 

Will students have recess?

  • Yes.  Students have the equivalent of at least 30 minutes of active recess each day.

Is Catalyst: Bremerton teaching sex education?

  • Catalyst: Bremerton’s curriculum doesn’t teach students about sexual intercourse, as we believe this content is best taught at home during the elementary years. In 5th grade, we teach students health standards about self-esteem, puberty/adolescence, HIV and AIDS. Parents can opt out if they aren’t comfortable with this. Our diverse school includes families from all different backgrounds and many different religions. Given this, we believe it is important for families to be their child’s first teacher on sensitive topics. 

 

Does Catalyst: Bremerton teach students about sex?

  • No. Catalyst: Bremerton’s curriculum doesn’t teach students about sexual intercourse, as we believe this content is best taught at home during the elementary years. In 5th grade, we teach students health standards about self-esteem, puberty, HIV and AIDS. Parents can opt out if they aren’t comfortable with this. Our diverse school includes families from all different backgrounds and many different religions. Given this, we believe it is important for families to be their child’s first teacher on sensitive topics. 

 

Based on HB 5395, aren’t all public schools required to teach sexual education starting in Kindergarten?

  • OSPI requires that scholars in grades K-4 receive social emotional learning support but they do not require any kind of sexual health education in these grades.  At Catalyst: Bremerton, scholars in all grades have a daily social and emotional learning course that we call Sunrise.  This is a time to foster cooperation and collaboration amongst scholars and the content is focused on teaching scholars about our BRAVE values.

  • The required K-5 curriculum focuses on health standards, including self-esteem, puberty, HIV and Aids.  Catalyst: Bremerton’s curriculum doesn’t teach students about sexual intercourse, as we believe this content is best taught at home during the elementary years.

  • Our Family Action Network (which includes families, school leadership and teachers) will review and provide feedback to the curriculum before it is shared with scholars and/or curriculum materials will be shared with families in advance of sessions.

  • Given the incredible diversity in our school community, families at Catalyst: Bremerton are provided the opportunity to opt out of this instruction if it doesn’t align with their values. 

 

What does comprehensive sexual education instruction look like for older scholars?

  • Also in Grade 5 we are required to teach the following to scholars.  These teaching points will be covered during a Wellness class or other class period at school.  Topics are:

    • Affirmative consent

    • Bystander training

    • HIV 

    • Understanding and respecting personal boundaries

    • Forming and developing healthy friendships

    • Human growth and development/puberty

    • Other state health standards related to personal hygiene and the like are taught via Wellness courses.

  • In grades 6-8 the state requires that scholars participate in 2 units of health education over the course of these three years.  Required topics include:

    • Helping student understand and respect personal boundaries

    • Developing healthy friendships and dating relationships

    • Gaining a deeper understanding of human growth and development

    • Developing skills to support choosing healthy behaviors and reducing health risks

    • Abstinence and other STD/pregnancy prevention approaches*

    • Understanding the influence of family and society on healthy sexual relationships*

    • Affirmative consent and bystander training

*These topics will be introduced in 8th grade.

Does Catalyst: Bremerton support faculty, scholars, and families who identify as LGBTQIA+?

  • Catalyst: Bremerton Public Schools accepts ALL faculty, scholars, and families. We are a fully inclusive community. This means that, yes, Catalyst: Bremerton Public Schools fully supports faculty, scholars, and families who identify as LGBTQIA+. We don’t discriminate. 

 

Does Catalyst: Bremerton teach students to be LGBTQIA+?

  • No, Catalyst: Bremerton isn’t teaching students to identify as gay or straight. We are a fully inclusive community and we support all students, families and faculty. This means that we support students, families, and faculty who identify as LGBTQIA+. We encourage all Catalyst: Bremerton community members to stand together. We don’t discriminate. 

 

Does Catalyst: Bremerton’s curriculum include information about people who identify as LGBTQIA+?

  • Catalyst: Bremerton believes that all scholars should learn about people with different identities, backgrounds, family structures, beliefs, and perspectives. We believe that this is one way students develop empathy and understanding for one another. While Catalyst: Bremerton isn’t teaching students to identify as gay or straight, we do strive to create a community where all human beings are fully accepted. Thus, Catalyst: Bremerton’s classrooms do have read-alouds and other texts that have characters from different types of families and in various types of relationships. We encourage all Catalyst: Bremerton community members to stand together. 

What pronouns and/or name will my scholar go by at school?

Students who attend Washington public schools have the right to be addressed by their preferred name and personal pronouns—he and him, or she and her. Schools should not require a legal name change for staff to use the student’s preferred name. During class, on seating charts, during roll call, on tests and assignments, and on other school records, staff should use a student’s preferred name and gender pronoun.  Families can learn more about this here.

What is Critical Race Theory (CRT)? 

  • Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic and legal framework that was developed in the 1980s.  One of the purposes of this framework is to explain how structural and racial disparities persist in American society.  CRT is a concept that is typically not taught in K-12 schools.  It is typically a framework taught to students in graduate - level courses*.

 

Do you teach CRT at Catalyst: Bremerton? 

  • No.  We do not teach the CRT framework to scholars at Catalyst: Bremerton.

 

If you don’t teach CRT, what are you teaching my child(ren) about issues around race and racism?  

  • At Catalyst: Bremerton, one of our core values is belonging.  At Catalyst: Bremerton we define belonging as, We are better together.  At Catalyst: Bremerton, we are creating a culture where every child, regardless of their identity markers, is known, loved, and challenged and is given equitable access to their education.  

  • To create this type of inclusive school we believe that we must see, and discuss, the identity markers that our scholars carry - this means not shying away from conversations around race, socio-economic status, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  It means ensuring that all of our students are represented amongst our faculty and the curricula that we teach.

  • Because of this, we teach in a manner that includes the perspectives and histories of all races and classes of people.  We learn about the history of the United States (as well as global history) through multiple lenses and narratives.  We do not shy away from discussing issues of race, racism, and power in our country and we are committed to doing this work with our scholars in a way that is appropriate for their age and development.  

 

What is the appropriate age to begin teaching children about race?  

  • We know that children begin perceiving differences based on race (as well as other identity markers) from a very young age.  Young children often begin to notice how they may look differently than those around them and the perception of these differences is often a natural part of a child’s curiosity.  We also know that young children of color are often more aware of their racial identity at an earlier age than their White peers.  

  • With our youngest scholars, we teach about identity in many different ways.  We help our scholars to explore what their personal and family identities, histories, and beliefs are.  We provide opportunities for scholars to explore what they like and don’t like (favorite colors, animals, books, etc.) and we support scholars as they learn that they can appreciate and be friends with other people who both believe similarly and differently from them.  These types of learning experiences set scholars up to be able to see how they can have their own identity markers that may be similar to and different from those of others.  It’s also an opportunity for our youngest scholars to learn that they need not feel better than or less than another person because of a difference in identity or belief.  

  • In addition to these learning experiences we also ensure that the books, videos, and other learning materials we are using represent diverse races, ethnicities, languages, and cultures.  This is yet another way that we ensure our scholars are building empathy and understanding for others.  

  • In the upper grades (grades 5-8) our work with scholars around identity development deepens and we begin to explore how one’s identity can make a difference in the way one experiences the world - both as a benefit and in ways that makes life more challenging.  We support our scholars to learn about the lived experiences of people of all backgrounds and help scholars understand that even if people live a life that is different from what they may choose or believe, that there are still commonalities that are important to recognize and appreciate.  

 

My child is White.  Are you teaching my child that they are a racist or a White supremacist?  

  • No.  It is not the place of a school to teach any children what they are or are not or to place judgment on the lived experiences of our children or their families.  That said, we do discuss ways that discrimination and prejudice impact certain people more than others and we discuss how systems have evolved in America to establish and reinforce some of these marginalizing systems.  We support all of our students to understand that these issues are complex and that to build empathy and understanding across lines of difference requires each of us to be willing to be vulnerable and learn the stories and experiences of others.  

 

My child is a person of color.  Are you teaching them that American values don’t include them?  Are you teaching them that the deck is stacked against them because of the color of their skin?  

  • No. As stated above, it is not the place of a school to teach any children what they are or are not or to place judgment on the lived experiences of our children or their families.  We spend time learning about the history of all Americans and we explore how the lived experiences of different people have varied over time in our nation.  We teach our scholars that each of them has limitless potential and that they can - and will - achieve great things.  We also teach them multiple narratives of American history so that they can become critical thinkers and make their own decisions as they develop their personal and moral codes of ethics.  

 

Why are you teaching about race at all?  My family believes in being color-blind.  We don’t see race and we don’t want our children to see race.  

  • Color-blindness assumes that race does not matter. To the contrary, we believe that one’s racial identity is a vital part of how one makes sense of the world.  We want our students to be proud of who they are along all lines of their identity, including race and the cultural constructs that come along with it.  Learning about race doesn’t mean that students are learning to treat people differently based on their racial identity. We see it as crucial to ensure that our work around race, power, and privilege allows scholars to build their empathy and understanding for the lived experiences of others and puts their understanding of the history of the United States into perspective.