What kind of education will Renaissance Secondary School offer?
Renaissance Secondary School will provide an innovative educational program that will include elements of Project Based Learning, problem-based learning, Design Thinking, Service Learning, and Adventure Education. As students engage in authentic learning projects, all students will have the opportunity to design, build, and create as they would in the real world, often taking them outside the confines of the school building and the traditional school schedule. Some have called this type of learning “Deeper Learning” – to learn more, visit http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/deeper-learning.


What grades will Renaissance Secondary School have?
Grade levels offered at Renaissance Secondary School will be dependent on demand. Renaissance plans to open to grades 6-10 in 2017 and expand one grade each year through twelfth grade.


How many students will the school accommodate?
Renaissance Secondary School is intentionally being planned to be smaller in size than the neighborhood middle and high schools. This smaller size will better accommodate the school’s unique focus on individualized learning. For the inaugural school year (2017-18), we anticipate enrollment of 360 students in grades 6-10. We anticipate a total enrollment in the 2019-20 school year of 696 students in grades 6-12.


Is Renaissance Secondary School a private school or church affiliated?
Renaissance Secondary School is a public school that received a charter for operation from the Douglas County School District. The school is not affiliated with any church or private organization.


What is the school’s relationship to the Douglas County School District?
As a charter school, Renaissance Secondary School has its own Board who provides governance and oversight. The board works in partnership with the District, but our school is not bound by the policies of the DCSD Board of Education. The District offers “purchased services” to charter schools, like special education services, annual state testing, school nurse services, student records, and more.


What does it mean to be a charter school?
A charter school is a public, tuition-free (although fees can be charged) school granted authority to operate under a contract, or charter, with the school board. Like other public schools, charter schools are still held accountable to state standards. The school is also held accountable to its charter in a renewal process with the school board. However, the school is governed by a board of directors rather than the school board.


Why a charter school? Why not a magnet school?
Two years ago, a group of parents organized under ELOB K-12 asked the Douglas County School District to expand Renaissance Magnet School to include seventh and eighth grades. After many months of discussions, DCSD rejected the request to expand Renaissance Magnet School. The only option available now is to proceed with organizing a charter school. A charter school structure provides us with an opportunity to operate free from many of the bureaucratic regulations district-controlled schools have.


How does a charter school receive funding?
Charter schools receive the “per pupil funding” that is provided by the State to educate each student. The Douglas County School District keeps a portion of this funding in exchange for the purchased services that are required for the successful operation of the school. Renaissance Secondary School’s board must pay for staffing, facility costs and school operations from the remaining funds. To build the school facility, the Board is seeking private funding, (a bank loan) which will be repaid using a portion of the per pupil funding, donations, funds raised and grants.


Will Renaissance Secondary School continue the education my children have received at Renaissance Magnet School?
Renaissance Secondary School will be a natural progression from Renaissance Magnet School. It will maintain the elementary school’s commitment to innovative expeditionary learning and its strong school culture. However, because Renaissance Secondary School will include higher grades with older students, the learning will look somewhat different. Students will take more responsibility for their own learning. They will engage in more projects in the community, they will create more sophisticated projects, and their learning will be more authentic. Renaissance is not, however, permitted to grant preference to Renaissance Magnet School students in the lottery and Renaissance Magnet School students will not be automatically admitted to Renaissance Secondary.


Will Renaissance Secondary School charge fees
The unique and innovative programming at Renaissance Secondary School requires additional funding in the form of student fees. Renaissance utilizes a once per year flat fee to cover educational program needs, rather than asking parents to pay fees “here and there” throughout the year for items such as adventure education, fieldwork transportation, electives, and technology fees. The fees at Renaissance Secondary School are roughly equal to fees at some other charter schools, including DCS Montessori in Castle Pines.

~ Renaissance Secondary School is committed to ensuring no student is excluded from attending based on an inability to pay fees. Scholarships will be available to families in need. ~

The fees for the 2017-2018 school year will total $1200 per student, broken down as follows:

  • $500 Adventure Education Fee (includes transportation)
  • $200 Supply Fee (tools and materials for projects)
  • $125 Field Work Fee (includes transportation)
  • $100 Tech Fee
  • $75 Book Fee
  • $75 Activity/Elective Fee (X Block Funding)
  • $125 Arts Fee


What will be the school schedule? What are the start times and end times?
In keeping with research that shows teenagers are more focused and perform better in school when the school day begins later, the Renaissance Secondary daily schedule will be 8:50 am to 4:20 pm Monday through Friday.


Where can I find the RSS Calendar?
Renaissance Secondary will follow the Douglas County School District Conventional Calendar with some slight modifications.

The full calendar can be downloaded from this link.

Listening Conferences will be scheduled for Aug 17 and 18, 2017. Listening Conferences are an opportunity to establish a relationship and connection between parents and teachers – in support of students – before the school year begins. They are a key component of the high level of personalized learning delivered through the Renaissance model. A Sign Up Genius will be sent out by the teaching staff, probably around mid July.


What is the School Schedule?
In keeping with research that shows teenagers are more focused and perform better in school when the school day begins later, the Renaissance Secondary daily schedule will be 8:50 am to 4:20 pm Monday through Friday.

A slightly longer school day will allow for time for students to meet their personal needs, longer passing periods, ample time to eat lunch and maybe even get outside (45 minutes).


Will early drop off be available?
We are aware that some family schedules will make early drop off a necessity. Doors will open at 8:30 am.


Will there be after care?
No after care will be available, although there may be after school activities.


How many classes will there be per day?
Rather than moving from one class or subject at short intervals, Renaissance Secondary will have longer, more flexible blocks of time that allow students to “dig deep” into a project or skill. For more please see, A Day in the Life.


What will be offered for lunch?
Lunch will be catered for the 2017-18 school year at a cost of $4.75 ($5.75 for gluten free or XL options).

The lunch period will be 45 minutes, allowing ample time for students to eat their food, meet their personal needs, and perhaps even get outside.

In future years, students will be encouraged to prepare and serve food for the school community using a culinary teaching kitchen. A farm to table model will be explored in conjunction with agricultural education initiatives.


Will there be an open campus policy?
There will not be an open campus for 2017-18. This may look different in subsequent years or at the new high school location in 2020. Feedback from the student and parent community on this topic is welcome.


Where will Renaissance Secondary School be located?
Renaissance Secondary School is excited to announce that it has secured a location for its middle school building! The building will accommodate both the middle and high school programs until the high school building is built in 2020. Please see the Our Campus page for more information.


When will you start building?
Construction is underway and to be completed in Fall 2017. Members of the community can follow the construction process at www.rssbuildingcrew.com


Will Renaissance Secondary School offer transportation?
If parents are interested, there is a possibility that we can contract bus service with DCSD for a couple of routes. In the past, charter schools have reported that the charge is $1 each way to and from school. We will also use “Way to Go” or another online carpool assistance program to help families find others in their area who attend Renaissance Secondary School.


Does the school follow the tenets of Outward Bound / Kurt Hahn?
Yes. The ten principles of Expeditionary Learning created by Kurt Hahn remain at the heart of the school’s educational program. The Outward Bound organization is no longer affiliated with Expeditionary Learning, but the educational principles of both organizations continue in both the academic and adventure education programs.


What if my student does not like “the great outdoors?”
Renaissance Secondary School will have an adventure education program in which all students will be required to participate in outdoor adventure activities. Your student does not need to like being in the outdoors to benefit from the program. The purpose of the adventure education program is to challenge students by placing them outside of their comfort zones and showing them that they can accomplish more than they thought they could. In fact, the students who benefit the most are often the students who are challenged the most.


Do medical staff accompany students on their voyages? How are food allergies accommodated?
To support our adventure education program many teachers / staff members will be trained and certified in Wilderness First Responder techniques. The commercial properties used for voyages will also be certified and provide trained staff. We have found that these facilities are willing and able to accommodate food allergies and preferences.


What is on the gear list?
*Gear List is subject to change depending on the needs of specific voyages (location, season)Colorado weather is unpredictable and sometimes severe. It is best to be prepared in terms of survival gear, while also being picky with extra items in order to minimize pack weight. Voyages always include a gear check prior to leaving. Some gear may be available to borrow. If any gear is needed, requests should be made before gear check.
You must provide:

– 2 pair heavy, non-cotton socks
– 3 pair medium, non-cotton socks
– comfortable hiking boots (waterproof preferred)
– camp shoes are optional (lightweight, closed-toe shoes)

– 1 non-cotton long underwear
– 1 heavy weight, non-cotton fleece/synthetic pants
– 1 quick dry, synthetic hiking pants
– Comfortable evening pants, synthetic is best
– Underwear
– Waterproof rain pants
– Waterproof snow pants – able to fit over warmth layers (for winter voyage only)
– Gaiters (optional)

– 2 non-cotton long underwear shirts
– 2 non-cotton, quick dry synthetic tee shirts
– 1 medium weight fleece/synthetic or wool tops
– Heavy weight fleece/synthetic coat
– Winter jacket with hood or waterproof and
– Waterproof/windproof jacket
– Comfortable shirt for evenings

– 1 pair heavy gloves (water resistant and insulated … fleece is not water resistant)
– 1 pair liner gloves (or thin pair for camp and warmer days)

– 2 heavy synthetic or wool hats/balaclavas (fleece-lined are often best)
– Scarf or neck gaiter (should cover student’s neck in order to keep heat inside jacket and potentially be pulled up over nose or mouth if it’s windy)
– 1 pair sunglasses – UV protected

Hard Gear:
– Large backpack
– Bag/duffle to hold clothing and equipment
– Plastic cup suitable for hot liquids
– Plastic bowl and spoon
– 2 wide-mouth, nalgene water bottles … No camel backs!
– Toothbrush/toothpaste, comb/brush, wash cloth (small towel – optional)
– Small hand sanitizer bottle
– 2 large, 2 small Ziploc baggies
– Bandanna/handkerchief
– Sunscreen (SPF 24 or greater)
– Lip balm (with SPF)
– Large plastic trash bags – odorless (2)
– Journal and pencil (from school)
– Whistle
– Head lamp or small flashlight (Mini-Mag light with head strap) — extra batteries are a good idea
– Sleeping Bag (very warm/winter bag)
– Sleeping pad (foam preferred or bring duct tape for repairs in air sleeping pad)

Optional Items: Camera, 2-4 plastic grocery bags (to go over socks inside boots – to keep them dry), disposable hand and feet warmers.

Does RSS follow the DCSD in terms of ‘WCO, GVC, 4 C’s,’ etc. ?
RSS has adopted DCSD’s World Class Outcomes as the outcomes for students at RSS. The RSS Board believes that the WCO’s and the 4 C’s (critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity) are the skills needed for success in the 21st century. RSS will teach the WCO’s and 4 C’s in a different way than other schools, though: through integrated, authentic projects that capture students’ interest and inspire them to dig deeper into the material they are studying.


Will RSS follow the Common Core?
As a public school in Colorado, Renaissance will be required to align its curriculum to state standards. The state has adopted the Common Core, so Renaissance will utilize the Common Core standards in planning the educational program.


Will Renaissance Secondary School give grades?
Yes, Renaissance teachers will provide grades and students will receive a regular transcript.


What will an RSS transcript look like? Will colleges ‘get’ what kind of school RSS is?
Across America, when high schools send student transcripts to colleges and universities it is accompanied by a document called the school’s “profile.” This document tells the admissions officers what a school is like – academic programs, graduation rates, listing of course offerings, student demographics, etc. Staff will develop a strong profile that clearly conveys the unique attributes of our school and students.


Will Renaissance offer concurrent enrollment?
Yes. In the spirit of personal learning, Renaissance will offer concurrent enrollment based on student needs.


Will Advanced Placement (AP) classes be offered?
Renaissance Secondary School will not offer traditional AP Courses. “AP” or Advanced Placement classes follow a syllabus and text that is determined by the College Board to cover content found on the exam. Students may take AP exams without attending an AP class. While our integrated curriculum does not allow for traditional AP classes, Renaissance Secondary School will provide opportunities for students to learn the content that is found on AP tests and find a location in Castle Rock to take the test if they wish to do so. In addition, concurrent enrollment will be offered such that students can earn college credits this way rather than through Advanced Placement Exams.


Will students have the opportunity to graduate with all the required credits for admission to Colorado colleges and universities?
Yes. Renaissance Secondary School is committed to ensuring that students are offered opportunities to earn all credits required for admission for Colorado colleges and universities, as delineated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE). These requirements can be found here on the CDHE website.


What will class sizes be like?
The size of each crew in middle school will be 30 students. Class sizes will average 30 in high school.


Where can I find out more about your homework policy?
You can find complete details in our Homework Policy Document.


How will students earn “credits” for classes that are multi-disciplinary or “integrated”? How will they earn credits for “learning expeditions” or “X Blocks”?
Students at RSS will earn credits that will translate onto a transcript that looks like any other school’s transcript so that colleges can be assured that students at RSS are meeting the same standards as students from any other school. Each project, learning expedition, or X-Block will be assigned a number of credits (e.g., .2 science credits, .1 math credit, .5 language arts). Students will need to accumulate enough credits in each subject to graduate from RSS. The graduation requirements for RSS will be the same requirements to obtain admission to state colleges and universities.


Will RSS offer Band or Orchestra?
Because Renaissance will be a small school (about 120 students per grade level), we will not be able to support a large marching band or orchestra like you might see in a more traditional high school setting. If there is enough interest in band or orchestral music, Renaissance may offer an X-Block for those students who are interested. Additionally, students may participate in extracurricular activities at other DCSD schools if they are not offered at Renaissance, like marching band.


Will private music lessons ‘count’ for a music class?
If our waiver request is approved by the State, activities like club volleyball, ballet, guitar lessons, etc. which are done outside of the school would count as part of coursework.


Will Renaissance Secondary School have extracurricular programs, like sports?
As a small school, Renaissance will not be able to offer the full spectrum of middle and high school sports and clubs on site. That said, the school plans to offer sports and other activities depending on the demand from students through organized teams, X Blocks, and other clubs and activities.

Renaissance will also partner with other schools so that students may play on their sports teams and participate in clubs not available at Renaissance Secondary School. Colorado State law allows for charter school students to play on another school’s athletic team. For example, middle and high school students looking for a football program may choose to play for the middle or high school in their feeder area.


Will the school have an arts program?
Yes. One of our six guiding Design Principles is Integrated Arts. The arts will be integrated into nearly everything students do in their projects. Students will learn the design process, graphic design, fine arts, performing arts, and more through the integrated projects they will do. Elective arts courses will also be offered as part of the X Block program.


What is an X Block?
An X Block is an elective course developed around student interests and passions, which can be physical, academic, or arts-based. Some examples of X Block courses that could be offered (based on student interest) are:

  • Physical: sports, skateboarding, circus arts, archery, Pilates, yoga
  • Academic: chess, model United Nations, yearbook, academic coaching in a content area, model rockets
  • Arts: digital arts, performing arts, fine arts, fabric arts, building arts

Just to name a few! The possibilities are infinite…


Which elective courses will be offered?
Elective courses will be determined based on student interest and programmed through X Blocks.


Will World Language courses be offered?
Yes. Renaissance Secondary School will offer a World Language program. The Renaissance team is committed to ensuring students leave Renaissance Secondary School with the World Language credits required for admission to Colorado colleges and universities. World Language will be integrated into learning experiences in a meaningful way whenever possible, so that students have opportunities to experience world language and culture in a rich, authentic way. In the first year, Renaissance Secondary School will offer World Language through Rosetta Stone, but plans to hire a qualified foreign language instructor as the school grows.


What’s happening with 6th grade at Renaissance Secondary School?
The 6th Grade Admission document contains information about the addition of 6th grade to Renaissance Secondary School.


My student attends an Expeditionary Learning elementary school. Will s/she automatically get in to Renaissance Secondary School or be granted preference in the lottery?
Unfortunately, no. Because we received a start-up grant from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) for new charter schools we will not be able to provide a “weight” or preference in our lottery to any group of students. This will remain in effect for the first three years of the school, until the grant funding expires. Once the grant has expired, the enrollment policy may be amended by the Board. Our enrollment policy and the grant guidelines do allow us to offer guaranteed admission prior to a lottery to up to 20% of our total enrollment to the children of Founding Families and the children of staff and administrators of Renaissance Secondary School.


How do I become a Founding Family?
A Founding Family includes children in the household of any member of the Founding Renaissance Secondary School Board and children in the household of any family or person that provided at least 80 hours of approved volunteer service toward the establishment of Renaissance Secondary School by August 1, 2017. Up to 20% of projected enrollment is guaranteed to Founding Families. Please see the “Founding Family” section of our Enrollment Policy for more information.


Are younger siblings guaranteed admission?
Yes. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) grant and our enrollment policies do allow for the priority admission of siblings.


How will enrollment work for the 2017-18 school year?
Renaissance Secondary School is nearing capacity for the 2017-18 school year. Please see the Enrollment Page for the most current information.


How will enrollment work for future years?
Admission to RSS is by lottery, should applications received exceed openings. Per the Enrollment Policy, the children of Founding Families, staff and siblings of current students will receive priority admission prior to the lottery. For the 2018-19 school year, we anticipate enrolling at least 30 students in 6th grade and at least 60 students in 7th grade. New students in grades 8-11 will be admitted to replace any departing students. Enrollment forecasts beyond the 2018-19 school year will be determined once a construction plan for the high school facility is completed.


Will there be a school nurse? My child has severe asthma attacks/food allergies, etc.
Yes, like neighborhood schools, a staff member will be first-aid trained and serve as a health assistant. In addition, to support our adventure education program many teachers / staff members will be trained and certified in Wilderness First Responder techniques.


What certifications or qualifications will RSS teachers hold?
RSS will hire “highly qualified” teachers or those who can become “highly qualified” within two years of their hire date. “Highly qualified” is a professional determination made by the state that ensures licensure requirements have been met as well as other criteria.


Will RSS teachers be subject to the DCSD pay for performance, or teacher evaluation criteria? Will teachers have to spend all that time to upload evidence of their effectiveness?
Staff members at RSS will be evaluated by the school principal using methodology created internally.


Where will you find and hire teachers?
We need a dynamic staff and are looking for unique people who love young people and want to be part of a unique school. Teaching in an expeditionary learning school is demanding and time consuming and requires the right people. We have already seen a great deal of interest by educators wanting to teach at Renaissance, where teachers are respected as professionals and given a great deal of autonomy and support. The school Principal will hire the teachers with the advice of a hiring committee comprised of other educators chosen by the Principal.


How many teachers will there be?
In year one, Renaissance will have 14 teachers. In grades 7 and 8, we plan to have four crews divided into two teams of two crews taught by one science, math, engineering, and technology teacher and one humanities teacher. Grades 9 and 10 will have four teachers for 120 students, one science, one math, one language arts, and one social studies. In addition, two elective teachers will be hired. As the school grows, we will continue to hire additional teachers.