Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing a school is a big decision. Review our most asked questions for answers to yours.

About Our School

Nova Classical Academy was founded by three St. Paul parents: Elisa Knudson, Simon Fung, and Teresa Schulte. These parents saw a need in the public school system for the kind of rigorous classical education typically found only in private schools. They also saw a need for a school that acknowledged parents as the primary educators of their children and which sought to assist them in that task. Nova Classical Academy opened in the fall of 2003 with approximately 165 students in grades K–6. Grades 7 and 8 were added in 2004 and 2005. Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 were added in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and 2012.

Read more about our history

A charter school is a public school that receives public education funding and is open to all children in the state in which it is located. In general, a charter school is independent of the local school district, nonsectarian, tuition-free, and governed by a board of directors elected from among the parents and staff of the school as well as interested community members. In return for increased accountability for results, charter schools are free of many regulations governing traditional public schools. Charter schools must have an authorizer to oversee these accountability efforts. Minnesota passed the first charter school law in 1991 and saw the opening of the first charter school in the nation in 1992. Now, a vast majority of states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing the creation of charter schools. In Minnesota, charter schools are part of the state’s system of public education.

Charter schools may be authorized by schools boards, institutions of higher learning and certain nonprofit corporations. Contracts with authorizers must be examined and renewed every three years. Nova is authorized by Friends of Education, a nonprofit corporation organized specifically to sponsor knowledge-based charter schools. Friends of Education authorizes a number of other charter schools in the Twin Cities.

Our Authorizer:

Friends of Education

11100 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 800
Minnetonka, MN 55305

We currently enroll 950+ students in grades K–12. We have four sections of Kindergarten, three sections each of grades 1–10, and two sections each of grades 11–12.

There are 20 students in each Kindergarten class; 27 in each of grades 1–5. Class sizes vary in 6-12 but generally stay between 12 and 32 per class.

No. Nova Classical Academy is a public charter school and is funded by general education revenues just like any other public school. We do invite parents to participate in fundraising activities, and some non-required programs are fee-based. The purchase of Nova uniforms is the responsibility of the family. Nova does provide uniform assistance for families that qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch.

Classes begin at the Lower School (Kindergarten–5) at 8:40 am and continue through 3:40 pm.

Upper School classes (grades 6-12) begin at 8:40 am and continue through 3:45 pm.

Information on Nova’s student demographics, including student population, Special Education, and Free and Reduced Price Lunch percentages, are available on the Minnesota Department of Education’s website. See the MDE Report Card for more detailed demographic information.

Nova provides transportation at no cost to any St. Paul student resident who lives more than two miles from school. We also offer bus service for a fee to students who live within the two-mile limit. Students that live outside of St. Paul may bus from an existing St. Paul Nova bus stop, but families are responsible for getting children to that bus stop. In addition, a number of Nova families carpool from locations around the Twin Cities metro area.

Yes. Nova contracts with CKC Good Food, a Minnesota-based food service management company, for daily catered lunch services. Nova’s hot-lunch program is optional and fee-based. Vegetarian and pork-free meals are offered.

Please note, for the 2021-2022 school year, K-5 lunches will be provided free of charge under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO). This is a federally subsidized program.

Yes. We believe that orderly classrooms begin with orderly students. Nova has a clear uniform code and offers two uniform vendors from which to purchase logo Nova uniform items: Donald’s Uniform and Land’s End. Standard, non-logo uniform items may be purchased at any store as long as they are in compliance with Nova’s uniform policy. Both vendors have our current list of grade level required items by simply referencing our school and location.

Nova offers ScholarZone: a fee-based before-and after-school care to students in Kindergarten through grade five in our school building. Nova parents interested in before- and/or after-school care for their children arrange care directly with the school.

Enrollment & Admissions

No. With limited exceptions, charter schools do not have geographic preference areas. Any Minnesota child in the offered grades is eligible to enroll, but parents must apply for admission for their children each school year.

Charter schools do, by law, recognize sibling preference, and may also recognize staff-child preference; Nova gives preference for enrollment to siblings of Nova students first, and then to children of Nova staff. Please see our application process for further information regarding deadlines and lottery procedures.

There are no academic or geographic admission requirements for enrollment or admission to Nova, but, as stated above, the application must be made in writing and applicants must be current residents of the state of Minnesota by the student’s 1st day of attendance. In addition, applicants who are admitted are asked to sign a partnership agreement. Grade placement and promotion will be determined on the basis of skills assessments.

Nova’s on-time enrollment seasons typically run from November 1 through the last Friday in January. The earliest that applications are accepted for any given school year is during the enrollment season just prior to the start of the school year for which an applicant is applying. A student application must be submitted during the on-time enrollment season in order to be part of the grade-level lotteries that generate grade-level waiting lists for the following school year. Applications received after the on-time enrollment deadline will be placed at the bottom of the appropriate grade-level waiting list. Applications are available in the Applications section of Nova’s website.

Nova’s waiting lists do not carry over from year to year. Any waiting list applicant that does not receive a place at the school during the school year to which they have applied will need to submit a new, on-time application in order to be included in the grade-level lotteries for the following school year.

Kindergarten Admissions

Nova offers a tuition-free, full-day Kindergarten program. Although Nova’s Kindergarten program is a full-day program, parents may make arrangements with the child’s teacher to pick up their child consistently at noon. Nova’s Kindergarten begins at 8:40am and ends at 3:40pm.

State law requires that Kindergarten students must attain the age of five prior to or on September 1 of the enrollment year.

Nova has four Kindergarten classrooms with 20 students in each class.

The curriculum is language intensive with a primary focus on reading. Individual reading instruction is provided for all students. The students are also given many opportunities to memorize facts. The curriculum is very rigorous and the teachers have high expectations for all students. Nova provides the Kindergarten students with a balance of whole-group instruction, independent work time, and learning lab time. The academic needs of all students are met through a multi-sensory, direct instruction approach to reading, writing, and math. The students also learn about the virtues of Justice, Temperance, Prudence, and Fortitude.

Yes, daily homework is mandatory for all students. Homework is a review of the letters or phonograms the students practiced in class that day. Homework is not meant to be difficult for the Kindergarten students and it should not take more than five minutes. Parents are also expected to be reading out loud to their children every single day.

Nova’s Kindergarten program is tuition-free.

Parents and grandparents are welcome to volunteer their time and talents in the classroom, especially as reading volunteers.

Your child should be able to:

  • Use developmentally appropriate small motor skills: hold a pencil, use scissors, color inside the lines, etc.
  • Separate from his/her parents without becoming emotional;
  • Dress his or her self (put on a coat, zip, snap, and button);
  • Follow verbal directions without numerous reminders;
  • Work with other children in a cooperative manner;
  • Demonstrate engaged concentration for a minimum of 15 minutes;
  • Be self-motivated towards learning;
  • Sit and maintain attention while you are reading and be able to answer questions when the story is complete (recall details, the sequence of events, etc.).

Academics & Curriculum

Nova is committed to providing appropriately challenging studies to gifted students within the framework of our classical curriculum. Our curriculum is accelerated and enriched and meets the needs of most moderately gifted students. In addition, Nova uses ability grouping to ensure that all students are comfortably challenged. Parents and students share a large part of the responsibility for making this successful.

Yes. Nova employs a full-time Director of Student Services and three full-time special education teachers for the provision of all Special Education services for our students, as well as a full-time English Language Learner teacher and a full-time School Psychologist.

We employ specialists in the areas of Art, Latin, Math, Music, Physical Education, and Reading.

Nova students have access to computers in all classrooms as needed as well as in an Upper School Computer Lab and mobile laptop computer labs. Computers are an essential part of schools today—for teaching, research, communication, and presentations. Nova does not provide students with individual electronic learning devices except on an as-needed basis. Computers are used sparingly in classroom teachings, mainly as a tool to help accomplish other academic goals.

All students study Latin on a daily basis beginning in third grade and continue through grade eight. Students in Kindergarten through grade two receive limited instruction in Latin. Once students enter into the School of Rhetoric (grade 9) and also demonstrate proficiency equivalent to Latin III, they have the option of continuing with Latin or beginning Spanish. Students new to Nova’s high school that does not have previous Latin instruction have the option to fulfill their three-year Latin requirement in a year and a half by completing a SuperLatin course, referred to as SOR Latin I and II.

Latin is an inflected language, which means that one can tell the function of the words from the letters in it. This means that Latin is highly organized. The study of any inflected language lends to the development of an orderly mind which seeks out categories and systems. In addition, studies have shown that students that study Latin perform better than students without Latin instruction on the verbal portion of the SAT. Because Latin is the foundation of the Romance languages, students that have studied Latin also have a solid basis from which to move into the study of French, German, Italian, and Spanish, as well as into studying the technical vocabulary of the sciences.

Students entering Nova in grades 3–5 will join their classmates in Latin. Students entering Nova in grades 6–12 without prior Latin instruction are placed in Latin I with other students their age or close to their age or have the option of taking “SuperLatin” to accelerate the completion of their Latin requirement. We have found that the majority of students new to Nova transition quite easily into Latin, but various resources are available to assist students that may have difficulty.

Nova has a full-sized gymnasium and uses green space around the building for Physical Education and nearby parks for outdoor sports and activities.

Nova currently offers students the opportunity to participate in many athletic, scholastic, and non-scholastic activities. The following is a sample: Baseball, Basketball, Biology Club, Chess Club, Choirs and Vocal Ensembles, Cross Country, Debate, Drama Club, Fencing Club, Fencing Team, Film Club, First Lego Robotics League, Golf Club, Junior First Lego Robotics League, Hockey (Boys and Girls co-ops), Knightly News, Mad Science Club, Mock Trial, Model UN, One Act Plays, Ski and Snowboard Club, Soccer, Tennis Club, Theater, Track and Field, Volleyball, Yoga Club, and Young Rembrandt’s Art Club.

Nova students take educational field trips during the year. Learn more about Nova’s Field Trips & Experiences.

Students at Nova receive homework regularly. Homework is integral to a student moving forward in a rigorous school. Nova’s position on homework is as follows: Homework is an invaluable tool to the learning process. It fulfills both academic and character education ends. At the same time, we recognize that students need leisure to relax, pursue other interests, and spend time with family. When we design and assign homework at Nova, we understand its three primary academic purposes to be:

  1. Preparation—allows the student to prepare for a challenging lesson by grounding him/herself in introductory materials. In turn, this allows for class presentations and discussions to be more engaging.
  2. Reinforcement—allows the student to practice concepts introduced in class to attain familiarity.
  3. Mastery—allows the student to practice concepts to the point of personal proficiency (necessary to move forward in a skills-based curriculum). In addition to the academic goals of homework, homework serves ends towards character education: it builds up the qualities in a child necessary to success throughout life, like discipline, planning, decision-making, and accepting responsibility for one’s actions.

Nova Classical Academy will design homework assignments to meet these academic and character learning goals. In addition, we will engage in norming of time demands to ensure that the homework load does not become egregious. We also encourage parents to become involved with their child’s homework in ways which facilitate communication, discussions, and sharing of lessons. In this way, parents and teachers continue to work together to educate the whole child.