Frequently Asked Questions

School Basics

+How many children attend your school, and in what grades?

There are generally 144 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

+How many students are there per class?

For 2019-2020 we are planning for class sizes of 24.

+Do I have to pay tuition?

There is no tuition. There is a small field study fee charged in September and February. Other than that, there are no financial requirements to attend the school. Families qualifying for the Free/Reduced Lunch Program will have fees reduced or waived accordingly.

+How many different classes are at your school?

There are two blended K/1 classes, two blended 2/3 classes, and two blended 4/5 classes.

+Is there before and after school care?

The Emerson School has it’s own aftercare program (Emerson Aftercare) on-site. If our on-site program is full, KCLC (MLC’s before and aftercare program) offers spaces to Emerson students. KCLC representatives bring Emerson students to school in the morning and pick them up at the end of the school day.

+What are the hours of before and after care?

Emerson Aftercare runs from 3:15-6:00pm Monday-Thursday and 1:15-6:00pm on Fridays. KCLC offers before school care to Emerson students from 7:00-8:30am. KCLC representatives bring Emerson students to school at 8:30am. KCLC also offers aftercare to Emerson students from 3:15-6:30pm Monday-Thursday and 1:15-6:30pm on Fridays.

+What is a charter school, and how does that differ from my neighborhood school or a Focus Option school?

Charter schools are independent public schools contracted by their sponsoring district to provide a specific program under the conditions of their contract.  They often have a greater degree of flexibility in programming, and also a greater level of accountability in that they may be shut down by their sponsoring district if performance benchmarks are not met.  Students enrolled in a charter school must meet all state benchmarks and district testing requirements, as well as any additional requirements determined by the district in the charter contract. Enrollment in a charter school is completely based on lottery, and there is no preference for neighborhood residents.  Charter schools are independent organizations, operating under their own administrative and financial policies, with oversight provided by the organization’s board of directors. 

+What are your hours?

School is in session from 8:45am - 3:15pm every day except Friday when school is from 8:45am - 1:15pm. Students may be dropped off as early as 8:30am when classrooms open.

More Detail About the School

+What is the focus of your school?
Our school focus uses the Project Approach.  You can find out more about the Project Approach at
+What is the classroom management and discipline approach?
We use Positive Discipline as our framework for classroom management and discipline.  You can find out more about Positive Discipline by visiting
+Do you offer physical education?

We do.  Each day every child participates in 30 minutes of Morning Movement, where they take part in a variety of large motor movement physical education taught by our teachers.  Often, there are additional movement opportunities brought in through visiting artist or residency programs.

+Do you teach any foreign languages?
We do not offer foreign languages at The Emerson School.
+What are the demographics of The Emerson School?
The Emerson School’s demographics fluctuate from year to year due to our small size.  On average we reflect the demographics of the city of Portland in race and income level.
+Can parents volunteer in the classrooms, and is it required?

Parents are encouraged to volunteer at The Emerson School, though there is no requirement for volunteering.  Volunteer opportunities may include small group reading leaders, math group helpers, one-on-one readers, field study chaperones, lunch servers, and participation in our parent group, Friends of The Emerson School.  We also have many opportunities for parents to help with fundraising and special events outside of school time.

+ Do you have Special Education services?
Special Education services are provided on-site by Portland Public Schools.
+Do students receive art instruction?

We do have a designated art teacher and a formal art program at The Emerson School. Students receive direct instruction in visual arts for 45 minutes each week. The Emerson School also offers integrated arts education that includes long-term residencies teaching fundamental art skills, attendance at arts performances throughout the city, and school-wide arts events. Additionally, classes also include extra arts instruction as it pertains to their current educational project, and include arts as a fundamental component into the overall curriculum when at all possible.

+What kind of music education is there?

We do not have formal music classes. While we do not have a separate music instructor at Emerson, music is very much part of the fabric of our educational program. Grades K-3 regularly gather for group singing, and most years, we have a 4/5th grade chorus. We come together as a school weekly for our All School Gathering, and have a beloved roster of songs we sing together. Students perform at various functions throughout the year, including our Martin Luther King celebration, Earth Day, and Fifth Grade Promotion. Additionally, classes will attend various musical performances throughout the year, either off-site or by having guest musicians come to our All School Gathering.

+Is lunch available for purchase?

We currently have a lunch service delivered to the school that families can purchase by ordering ahead on a weekly or monthly schedule. The cost is waived or reduced for families that qualify for the free/reduced lunch program. Lunches fully meet the nutritional requirements of the USDA.

Enrollment Information

+How can I learn more about the school?

Aside from reading the information on this list and investigating our website, you can also join us for our Info Night. At Info Night, the staff of The Emerson School discusses our program and there is time for a few questions. Please check the enrollment page of our website for the date and time of Info Night.

+Can I have a tour of the school?

Due to limited staff resources, we are not offering group tours, however, please join us for our Open House in March. At that event, you can walk through the school, investigate the classrooms, and ask the teachers questions. Pleae check the enrollment page of our website for the date and time of our Open House.

+I can�t attend the Info Night or Open House! Will I still be able to enter the lottery?
Attendance at the Info Night and Open House is not required to enter the lottery. The only requirement is that you submit an application for your student. If you have a lot of questions about the school that have not been answered by your research, it will probably be helpful to attend either or both events if you possibly can. Once we have the results of the lottery, new Kindergarten families will be invited to a Kindergarten Extravaganza, which will give them more opportunities to learn about the school.
+Can I observe a classroom?
Due to the number of inquiries and the logistics of coordination, we do not schedule classroom observations or visits.
+How do I enroll my child?
We’re glad you are interested.  To begin with, fill out the application for the upcoming school year.  The current application is posted on the web site in January.  After submitting your application, sit back and wait for the results of the lottery.
+What lottery?
When we have more applications then spaces, state law requires us to hold a lottery to fill our available spaces. Our lottery process gives preference to siblings of students who already attend The Emerson School. Starting in 2020, we will also be utilizeing a weighted lottery system in an attempt to ameliorate the impact of discimination against historically underserved students.
+When is the lottery drawn?
The lottery is drawn in April.
+Are you one of the choices in the PPS lottery?
No. Our lottery is separate from the Portland Public Schools’ Lottery.
+How do I know if I got in?
We will notify you by email in mid-April.  Your email will either welcome you to the school or inform you what number you are on the waiting list.
+How many spaces do you have each year?
It varies from year to year and by grade level. Generally speaking there are the most spaces available in kindergarten; the specific number varies depending on how many younger siblings are entering the incoming kindergarten class.  First through fifth grades may or may not have openings, depending if students from the previous year relocate.
+What happens if my child doesn�t get one of the openings?
All students who do not get a space are placed on a waiting list in the order assigned from the lottery.  We use that waiting list to fill spaces that may become available throughout the summer and through the school year.
+What if my child doesn�t get in at all? Am I automatically entered into the lottery next year?
No.  You must turn in a new application each year you wish your child to be considered for the lottery.
+What if I live in the neighborhood? Is there a preference for my child to attend The Emerson School?
Because we are a charter school, state law prohibits us from giving enrollment preference to children who live in the neighborhood.
+I live in another school district. Can my child still attend The Emerson School?
State law requires us to place all Portland Public School District residents before accepting any out-of-district students.  If there are still spaces in a class once all the in-district residents have been placed, then the out-of-district students will be accepted in the order determined by the lottery.  Realistically, an out-of-district student would not be likely to be accepted in grades k-3 due to the length of the waiting lists.
+If my child is next on the waiting list, will you contact me if there is a space?
We will.  In the case of the Kindergarten waiting list, which tends to change more than the other grades, we usually also inform the family that is second on the waiting list.
+How do I know if my child has moved up on the waiting list?
You can contact us to find out if your child’s position on the waiting list has changed.  Due to the large volume of inquiries, we prefer you email (rather than call) us at:
+My child moved down on the waiting list. How is that possible?
Children can move either up or down on the waiting list. If child fills an open space and the child has siblings, all siblings move to the top of the waiting list in their grade. This causes students at the top of the list to move down.
+If one of my children gets into The Emerson School, does that mean her elementary aged brothers and sisters automatically get in too?
If one of your children attends the school, her siblings will move to the first slot on the waiting list in their grade. If there are already siblings of other students waiting at the top of the waiting list, your children will be on the waiting list after them. If a space becomes available in that grade then that sibling will also get in the school.
+My kindergarten aged child has younger brothers and sisters. If my child attends the school, will his brothers and sisters have to go through the lottery process when it is time for them to go to kindergarten?
No.Younger siblings who are old enough to attend kindergarten do not have to go through the lottery process.State law allows preference for siblings of children attending a charter school. You will still need to complete an application.
+How many people are usually on the waiting list?
This changes from year to year and from grade to grade. Generally, Kindergarten has the longest waiting list, with between 180 and 200 people. First grade has less, between 50 and 75. As the students get older, the waiting lists get shorter.
+How long do I have to accept a spot at The Emerson School?
If your student is chosen in the initial lottery, we hope that you will accept right away. However, you have a few weeks to make your decision. After that, we begin calling people on the waiting list and as we get closer to the start of the school year you have less time to make your decision. If you are called during May, June, or July, you will have a few days to make your decision. During August, we ask that you make your decision more quickly, usually within 24 hours.
+Do spaces ever become available during the school year?
On occasion spaces do become available during the school year. When this occurs, we call the first person on the waiting list.
+Will you accept students who are not yet five years old by September first? What if they have already been accepted for Early Entrance through the district TAG testing program?
The Emerson School’s policy is that students must be five years old by September first to enter kindergarten that year. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Spaces currently still available!

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The Emerson School

We are a welcoming, inclusive learning community committed to equity for all students. In addition to comprehensive literacy and mathematics instruction, students are actively engaged through project-based learning using the outside community as an extension of the classroom. Learn more about us.

The Emerson School
428 NW 20th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 525-6124 | View Map

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