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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a public district school and a public charter school?

Both receive government funding and are accountable to state and national standards. In a district school the district's governing board makes the curricular and policy decisions for all its schools. In a charter school, the school has made its own curricular decisions and has a contract with the state to deliver that curriculum. Benchmark uses its Directors and School Board made up of the school administration, faculty, parents, and community members to develop appropriate policies.
There are no boundaries regulating student enrollment to attend a charter school. Students may attend Benchmark School, regardless of their address or location. However, Benchmark is allowed to cap enrollment and start a waiting list if the desired maximum class size is reached. A district school is obligated to serve all children in their district, regardless of class size.

 What is Benchmark Charter School's AZ Learns Academic Performance Label?
The Arizona Department of Education has determined that Benchmark is an "A " rated school. That is the highest rating any AZ school can receive.

What are the academic school day hours/fees?
Benchmark School hours are 8:00 am - 3:00 pm for all grades including Kindergarten. There is a morning kindergarten from 8:00 - 10:30 am for which there is no charge as it is completely funded by the state. The Kindergarten all day program has a monthly fee. Preschool hours are from 9:00 - 12:00 noon. The fee schedule for full day Kindergarten and all of the Preschool programs is available in the front office. All payments are due the first day of each month and payments received after the 5th of the month are considered late and will incur an additional $20.00 fee.

What District is Benchmark Charter School in?
We are not affiliated with any school district. Benchmark School is chartered through the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. Our campus is located within the Paradise Valley Unified School District's boundaries.

What grades does Benchmark Charter School offer?
Benchmark School offers Kindergarten through 6th grade. Benchmark also houses a private preschool on campus. 

How long has Benchmark School been in operation and where is it located?
We are pleased to have been offering an exceptional education since the 1998-99 school year.  Benchmark School opened it's doors in the fall of 1998 at 3110 E. Cheryl Drive as a private school with 15 Kindergarteners and 12 preschoolers. We received our charter in March of 1999.  Four years and four portable buildings later we had outgrown the space. In the fall of 2002 Benchmark School opened the doors of its newly built campus facility (Buildings A and B) at 4120 E. Acoma Drive. In 2004, a third building that currently houses fifth and sixth grades, the Makerspace, and Exceptional Student Services(ESS) office was added. In 2007 the final building that houses a living Science Lab and Art Room was added. 4120 E. Acoma is located half way between Greenway and Thunderbird roads, just east of 40th Street.

Does Benchmark School have Uniforms?
No.  Benchmark does have a dress code that outlines the expectation that students dress so that they are not a distraction to the educational environment. 

What curriculum does Benchmark School follow?
Benchmark School implements the E.D. Hirsch Core Knowledge curriculum. Core Knowledge is a highly effective, quality curriculum which is fully aligned with the Arizona State Standards. It is an integrated, hands-on approach formulated to avoid gaps and repetition in sequence. Students must achieve basic core knowledge of information before moving on to the next grade. This foundation of knowledge is what gives the student the confidence and ability to succeed. 
Singapore Math is our math curriculum. The Singapore math method is a highly effective teaching approach originally developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education for Singapore public schools. The method has been widely adopted in various forms around the world. Benchmark School was the first school in the country to fully implement Singapore Math in all grade levels in 2003.
Core Virtues, a character education program, is also a part of our daily curriculum. It incorporates virtue/character education into lessons for each grade daily including but not limited to respect, integrity, loyalty, honor, compassion, honesty, courage, perseverance, mercy, and responsibility. 
Can I get a copy of the curriculum?
The Core Knowledge Series is edited by E.D. Hirsch Jr. Each book in the series is titled after its grade level: What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, What Your 1st Grader Needs to Know, What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know, etc. There is a set of these books available for review in the school office. This series can also be found both at your local bookstore and local library. We encourage parents to become familiar with their student's grade curriculum.

Does Benchmark School have a Preschool Program or Full-day Kindergarten?
Benchmark School offers a private preschool program that has a monthly tuition. We offer a 3-day or 5-day per week schedule for three year olds and 5-day per week programs for our four year olds.  Families who need full day care can opt to join our after care programs. The fee schedule gives all tuition and before/aftercare costs.
Benchmark Charter School does offer a half day, tuition free Kindergarten program from 8:00 - 10:30 am each day. The full day program is from 8:00-3:00 daily. Our full-day program is not a day care environment; it is educational enrichment, which includes all of our specials (Science Lab, Art, Makerspace, P.E., and Music) as well as additional enrichment in the classroom.  Most of the students attending Kindergarten take advantage of this program. There is a fee for the full day program.

How much does it cost to attend Benchmark Charter School?
There is no tuition to attend the elementary grades at Benchmark Charter School, except if your child is enrolled in our full day Kindergarten Program. Our Preschool is a private preschool and does have a monthly tuition. Here is link to the fee schedule.
There are some fees:  an occasional minimal fee for field trip admissions, a per family annual PTO fee that includes a Benchmark t-shirt for your children, school lunches are offered for $6.50 per day.  The Full Day Kindergarten enrichment fee is $550.00 a month, but could be adjusted at any time. We ask all of our families to support the Arizona Tax Credit Program each year. Your direct donation to the school is refunded to you whenever you pay your state income tax bill.

Does Benchmark School have a before or after school program?
Benchmark School does offer a before and after school extra-curricular program. Programs are currently available from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
Our teachers offer a variety of extracurricular after school clubs/classes. Some that have been offered in the past and may be currently available include: Dance, Arts & Crafts, music, sports, scouts, karate, Robotics, Science Club, Spanish and Chess Club.  There are associated fees; please check with the office staff at the start of the school year to see what is available. (Late pick up fees also apply to these classes)

What types of extracurricular/expanded educational opportunities are offered at Benchmark Charter School?
Benchmark School is unique in that 4 teachers work together at each grade level.  (32 students per room with two teachers in the room)  The teachers use achievement groups  for language arts and math, to ensuring each student is receiving the content at the right pace for them.  The groups are fluid-if it is necessary to move a student to a different group so the student will be successful the teacher will make that adjustment. The main difference in achievement groups is pacing.
This 16:1 ratio ensures the individual attention needed for students to excel with the advanced curriculum.  The "high" group is the equivalent to a gifted class for qualified students as it offers expanded intellectual studies. 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students also have the opportunity to qualify for the "Competitive" advanced math class and a Creative Writing class.
Benchmark employs a PE coach, as well as Music and Art teachers. The music and art curriculum is fully integrated with Core Knowledge activities for all Kindergarten through 6th grade classrooms.
We also have a full-time Living Science Lab coordinator and assistant, working with all of our students on a weekly basis. The Science Lab houses over 80 small mammals, insects and reptiles.  Classes use the Makerspace to explore and develop ideas involving STEAM. 
The Benchmark Library houses over 13,000 titles.  Our Librarian works with each class on a weekly basis and oversees approximately 10 volunteer parents.  Benchmark School is part of the Renaissance Learning Program that gives students access to over 150,000 quizzes  for the Accelerated Reading Program (AR).  The Library itself houses over 9,000 AR titles. 

What is the Benchmark School Discipline Policy?

Click here for the School Discipline Policy.

How does Benchmark Charter School get money/how is the school funded?
Benchmark Charter School is a state funded school. We are funded based on the average number of students we have enrolled in our classrooms each day during the school year. We lose funds if our student absentee rate is over 5.9%. Research has proven that days missed directly affect a student's progress and academic success. As noted above, Benchmark School is also impacted by missed days. Please join us in encouraging your child to strive for consistent and constant attendance! Your tax credit donations can provide a direct payment of up to $400 per family of your state tax bill to the school. Please donate! Your tax credit amount even counts as a donation to a tax-exempt organization on your Federal Return when you itemize your deductions. Additional funding comes to the school through donations, the school lunch program and two or three yearly PTO fund raising events.

Does Benchmark School have a transportation system?
No. Benchmark School does not provide transportation.

What should I do if I want my student to attend  Benchmark School?
The most effective way to begin to secure a spot for your student(s), is to fill out a one page registration form.
Elementary registration is done by lottery.  The registration form may be turned in anytime after it appears on the website in January and before the second week-end in February to be included in the lottery. 
Preschool Registration is "first come first serve."  Preschool registration forms for the following school year need to be turned in on the specified date.  Check the school calendar.  You will be informed two weeks after registration whether your student secured a spot in a class or is on the wait list.  You should keep us current with ALL address and phone number changes. This will help to keep you current on enrollment dates and your student(s) status on our waiting list. All new, incoming students will be assessed after enrollment, but prior to the beginning of school, to ensure they are registered in the appropriate grade based on the Arizona State Standards. Click here for additional Registration information .