Charter School FAQs

  • What is Princeton Charter School?

    Princeton Charter School is one of 13 new public schools established in New Jersey in 1997. More charter schools have opened every year since 1997. These public schools are open to all students, are funded by taxpayer dollars, and are governed by their own School Boards, which are separate from the local districts’  Board of Education.  The PCS board follows the Sunshine Laws and is regulated by the NJDOE and state laws.

  • What is the mission of Princeton Charter School?

    PCS’s mission is to provide its diverse student body the best possible education by focusing on the fundamental academic disciplines in an atmosphere that affirms academic achievement, and in so doing, to offer the community true choice in public education. Princeton Charter School believes that a thorough and efficient education is best accomplished through a rigorous curriculum that requires mastery of core knowledge and skills.

  • What is the education philosophy of Princeton Charter School?

    PCS believes that learners acquire genuine self-esteem through the challenge of academic accomplishment. The school has high expectations so that all its students  acquire the knowledge and skills they need for success in their further education and careers.

  • What are some distinguishing features of the education program?
    1. A rigorous curriculum with well-defined grade-level outcomes.
    2. A focus on mastery of core knowledge and skills.
    3. Teaching methods that provide appropriate support and challenge for all students.
    4. Integrated assessment to confirm student progress, and to identify the need for intervention or further challenge.
    5. Early, energetic intervention so students with difficulties do not fall too far behind.
    6. Timely and complete communication with parents.
  • What is a rigorous curriculum?

    A rigorous curriculum is a systemic, sequential program with mastery of specific knowledge and skills at each grade level. The program is aimed to be challenging to, but not too difficult for average students.

  • What is the classroom environment like?
    1. Most instructional time is spent teaching the standard curriculum to the entire class.
    2. Homework complements and supplements classwork, but does not replace the teacher’s obligation to cover material in class.
    3. Pull-out programs are avoided; tutoring is available as needed.
  • How does PCS address the needs of individual students?
    1. A tutoring/silent reading period is built into the daily schedule. This period may be used for tutoring students, for providing extra challenge, or for reading.
    2. Flexible and highly mobile groupings are used within the classroom environment as a tool to ensure that all students receive appropriate and stimulating instruction.
    3. Program adjustments are used only if the daily tutoring period is not sufficient to help a child be successful in reading, writing, and mathematics.
  • What values does the school foster?
    1. The importance of hard work and personal responsibility.
    2. The encouragement and recognition of academic accomplishment.
    3. A commitment to supporting all students with their studies.
    4. Respect for others and for the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in our society.
    5. Students are expected to work hard and to finish assignments.
    6. Teachers are expected to work hard and to support the needs of all students.
  • How can we have high expectations without too much competition?

    The school has established milestones of achievement for students that give the PCS community the opportunity to celebrate and recognize achievement. Milestones are not competitive; students work to meet a standard of excellence for a specific project. Some examples are: a well-prepared science laboratory report demonstrating proper use of data analysis; an illustrated story with correct grammar and spelling; a health and nutritional plan; and a well written five-paragraph essay on a theme from history.

  • What subjects does the school teach?

    The school focuses on the major academic disciplines (English language arts, mathematics, science, history and geography, modern world language, the arts) for learning of content as well as mastery of skills. The program also includes comprehensive health and physical education. In the early grades reading, writing, and mathematics are top priorities.

  • How does the school compare with other schools?

    Princeton Charter School is a nationally recognized model of excellence and accountability in public education.

  • How many students are in a class?
    1. The projected number of students per grade is: 17-19 students for kindergarten, 19-21 for grade one, 22 for grade two, and 44-48 for grades three through eight.
    2. Starting in grade five, students are placed into mathematics classes according to their demonstrated level of interest and achievement. Students in grades three through eight have a choice of French or Spanish for their modern world language. All other classes are split randomly.
    3. In grades five through eight there are three sections for English, mathematics, and modern world languages, and two sections for other subjects in grades five-eight. The average number of students in a class in these grades is between 15 and 20 students.
  • Who may apply to Princeton Charter School?

    All children entering kindergarten through grade eight are welcome at Princeton Charter School. The greatest number of spaces is available in kindergarten, and grade three, but several openings are anticipated in other grades.

  • How old must my child be to sign up for kindergarten?

    In accordance with New Jersey administrative code (N.J.A.C. 6A:11-4.6) a charter school student enrolling in kindergarten must reach the age of five on or before September 30th in that school year.

  • How are students selected for admission?

    There are no tests or other barriers to admission to Princeton Charter School. Students who live in the Princeton Regional School district have first priority for enrollment. If more students apply than there are spaces available, a random lottery will be used to select applicants. If fewer students apply, applicants may be accepted from other districts (each district pays for its own students). Students enrolled in the school have priority the next year provided the appropriate grade is offered. Younger siblings of enrolled students also have priority, provided they apply to the school when first eligible.

  • May out-of-district residents apply?

    Although students who are not residents of either Princeton Township or Princeton Borough may apply, since residents have priority, there is very little chance of a non-resident being offered admission. PCS has always been so popular with residents that admission has never been offered to a student from outside Princeton.

  • Does the school have a waiting list?

    To date, the number of students applying for each grade has exceeded the number of spaces available. Students not offered spaces are placed on the waiting list in lottery-number order. As spaces become available, they are filled from the waiting list. According to state regulations, the waiting list applies only to the end of the following academic year. Students who wish to remain on the waiting list go through the lottery each year to receive a new placement.

  • Where is the school located?

    PCS is located at 100 Bunn Drive on a seven-acre campus in Princeton Township. The main entrance is off Bunn Drive, just north of Princeton Shopping Center. The K-4 classroom building was reconstructed on the foundation of the New Jersey Bankers Association building that the school purchased in 2001. The light-filled classrooms are bright and spacious, helping to make learning fun for the students.

    The main, three-story school building which houses grades 5-8 was renovated in stages from 1997 to 1999. The school is particularly proud of the modern, fully equipped science laboratory, made possible by a generous grant from the Challenge Foundation.

    The new campus center, completed in 2010, has classrooms for art and music, a black-box theater, and a gymnasium. The spacious center gallery hosts gatherings and  art shows.

    The campus also includes playing fields, a running path, and playgrounds.

  • How is the school funded?

    PCS, like all public charter schools in New Jersey, receives state and local tax dollars to educate the children attending the school. Unlike traditional public schools, PCS receives a fixed amount per pupil, and finances all operating costs with these funds. Since PCS does not receive any of the local bond monies for capital improvements, the school raises money from individuals and foundations to improve its facilities.

  • Does the school have a parents organization?

    The parents’ organization is called Friends of Princeton Charter School. The Friends support the school by raising funds and organizing events such as parties and picnics that build a sense of community at the school. The Friends raised the funds for the first phase of renovation of our current building. Since that time, the school has grown significantly, and the function of raising funds for capital improvements has been transferred to the PCS Capital and Endowment Fund.

  • How is transportation provided to students?

    The Princeton Regional School District is responsible for providing transportation to PCS on the same basis as they provide transportation to the other public schools.

  • Is lunch available at the school?

    Lunches meeting established nutritional standards are available for purchase on a daily basis. Free and reduced lunches are offered to all children qualifying under the same statewide eligibility criteria used by all public schools in New Jersey.

  • How can I find out more about Princeton Charter School?

    Attend one of our Open Houses, held during the autumn and  winter before the admissions deadline in early March. Open Houses run 1:00-3:00 in the afternoon, with one scheduled for a Saturday, and one for a Sunday. For the current schedule, click here.  Teachers, students, and parents will be available to answer your questions and to give tours.

    Information is also available on the school’s web site at The PCS charter is also available at the reference desk of the Princeton Public Library. If you would like to speak with someone about the school, please call the school office at 609-924-0575 and leave a message. We will return your call.