Frequently Asked Questions
When did Peak to Peak Charter School open?
Peak to Peak opened its doors in 2000 and began operation of its secondary school in 2001.
What is a charter school?
Operating within local public school districts, charter schools are public schools with their own board of directors. For more information on charter schools, see the Colorado Department of Education Charter School page or the Colorado League of Charter Schools.
What does the term “College Preparatory” mean?
Peak to Peak’s staff and faculty take very seriously the mission to teach our students to be advanced thinkers – the kind of thinkers who colleges and universities want to admit. The choices of educational materials in the K-12 curriculum are intentional and designed to prepare students for the academic and social environment they will encounter at the college or university of their choosing. The type of advanced thinking demonstrated in the essential questions and essential learning results for each grade level, content area, and course, are combined with the knowledge that fuels that thinking and the character to put that thinking to good use to define what “College Prep” means at Peak to Peak.
How is the school financed? Do you charge tuition?
No. Peak to Peak is a tuition-free public school that manages its own budget. The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) allocates operational funding to Peak to Peak on a per-pupil basis, just like it does for other schools. Unlike other public schools, however, a charter school’s building costs are paid from those operational funds. Peak to Peak has an active fund development program to bridge this gap. The areas of fundraising include: Annual Gift Campaign; special events; ongoing fundraisers like script, food labels, box tops, recycling, etc.; grant writing; planned giving; and our Ambassador Program. Charter schools are public schools that receive public funding, and thus we do not charge tuition.
Peak to Peak’s buildings are financed through the issuance of bonds through the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA). The school’s per-pupil funding is used to retire the bonds over the long term.
Does the school need additional funding beyond those allocated by the school district?
Yes! As a tuition-free public charter school of choice, we encourage our families to learn about Peak to Peak’s unique financial model. Each year, the school spends approximately $1.4 million to pay down the debt we owe for our campus buildings. This money comes directly out of our operating budget and amounts to approximately $1,000 per student. Money that would normally be spent on staff salaries, curricular resources, campus maintenance, and student-centered programs is diverted to pay for our buildings. Please visit our Financial Transparency page for detailed information about our school’s funding.
It's important to know that while we still receive the same PPR (per-pupil revenue) as allocated to non-charter schools, we did have to incur this debt to start our school and pay for building the original campus. This gap greatly impacts our operating budget and can limit our ability to continuously improve and achieve goals, such as enhancing existing programs, adding new programs, and competitively paying our staff. Each year we work to fill this funding gap, replacing the loss to our budget through fundraising, fiscal responsibility, and by doing more, with less. We support our incredible teachers and staff who strive to provide an exemplary service to our students with fewer resources available than traditional neighboring public schools. Peak to Peak will continue to have this $1.4 million annual expense until 2037, or until the debt is paid off.
What does your campus include?
The Peak to Peak K-12 campus encompasses 39.6 acres in east Boulder County. Since moving to this location in 2002, the school has continued to expand the facilities available to its 1450 students and the community. The premises currently contain over 183,000 sq ft of building space housing seven science labs; a College Planning and Counseling Center; a Performing Arts Complex with auditeria; a Library Media Center, a tutoring center, and technology labs; vocal and instrumental music classrooms; three gymnasiums; a fully-equipped weight room; large cafeteria space with a variety of seating options both indoors and out; and a state of the art kitchen. The campus also includes two soccer fields, including one high-quality synthetic turf field with lights; baseball and softball fields; tennis courts; and two playgrounds.
Who hires the teachers and staff?
The Hiring and Organizational Development (HOD) team consists of Peak to Peak administrators, board liaisons, the Human Resources director, trained teachers and parent volunteers. All volunteers must be approved by the board of directors prior to serving on the committee.
The HOD team’s role is to recruit and recommend candidates to fill openings for administrative, teaching and head coaching positions by using selection procedures and job descriptions approved by the Board of Directors. The team’s primary goal is to hire teachers and staff members who will inspire excellence and promote student achievement while furthering Peak to Peak’s overall mission and vision.
Peak to Peak’s hiring process is designed to thoroughly assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the Peak to Peak environment. The hiring process has been developed and refined since the school’s inception with input on best practices from human resources professionals, administrators, teachers and hiring team members.
How qualified are Peak to Peak’s teachers and staff?
Peak to Peak has become widely known for its exceptional faculty. The teaching staff is carefully selected following an extensive hiring process by a team that includes administrators, other teachers and extremely dedicated parent volunteers. Staff members are recognized for their achievements on our Accomplishments page and on the school's LinkedIn profile.
What class size can we expect at Peak to Peak?
While Peak to Peak is a small school, our class sizes are similar to other public schools. We endeavor to keep class sizes at 24 students in grades kindergarten through second grade, 26 in third through fifth grade, and an average of 25 students in middle and high school classes. Although efforts are made to balance class sizes, Peak to Peak’s goal to place students in courses that are properly challenging does sometimes create fluctuations in class size.
Are parents expected to volunteer at Peak to Peak?
Peak to Peak strongly believes that parental involvement is an important factor in a successful education and requests that each family contribute to the school through volunteer work and/or other resources. Since Peak to Peak has high standards for the school and our students, but fewer dollars than other schools, these volunteer efforts and financial gifts are essential.
How does Peak to Peak promote a positive school culture?
The development of positive character has played an important role at Peak to Peak since its inception. The school seeks to intentionally infuse character throughout the culture of the school, rather than adding it as an extra program. The school supports a positive environment through community service, a bullying prevention program, a code of conduct, and an honor code. Peak to Peak students work hard in their academic endeavors and they also spend time enjoying extracurricular competitions and after-school activities.
Are special education services available?
Yes. Peak to Peak provides resource-level support to encourage academic growth for our children with special needs. Students receive instructional interventions and accommodations within the general classroom setting. Curriculum is often adapted to meet the needs of our special education population, but rarely modified. The special education process is a collaborative effort involving families and staff members. The Special Education Services team members are a professional group who have extensively worked with the academic, social-emotional, developmental, and cognitive aspects of student achievement, and bring a unique skill set to the school environment. The Special Education team includes special education teachers, paraeducators, speech/language pathologist, school social worker, and related service providers. In collaboration with the multi-disciplinary team, that includes: general education interventionists, general education teachers, school counselors, and school administrators, the Special Education team provides services to students according to Individualized Education Plans. The team provides resources to teachers, students, and families. Services are available at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Peak to Peak Charter School offers a depth of service model that maintains depth of service at 80% or more in the general education classroom through inclusive practices and student support structures. More information about each school level is provided in the Student Academic Support section of our website.
How are the needs of gifted students addressed?
Peak to Peak’s mission is to challenge students K-12 to reach their academic potential and to create a community in which each student is known, respected, and valued as an individual of great potential and promise. It is our policy to provide for the children identified as requiring gifted education services. At Peak to Peak, gifted and talented programming is built into the curriculum and course offerings at all levels.
ALPS is the acronym for Appropriate Learning Placement Services, and the coordinator holds the responsibility of collecting evidence to identify and advocate for our identified TAG or GT students, our twice-exceptional students, and our high ability students. This includes communicating the strengths and needs of our identified students to ensure proper class placement and providing resources for teachers, parents, and students to ensure success from kindergarten through 12th grade.
What is "open enrollment" and how do I enroll my student at Peak to Peak?
Comprehensive enrollment information can be found on our Enrollment page. Open enrollment information, including dates and action steps, is provided on the page for Prospective Families. Peak to Peak’s Open Enrollment Policy (JECC-R) includes details about the enrollment preferences in the lottery and the waitlist.
If my student is not offered a space this year, am I placed on the waitlist for the next school year?
BVSD eliminates Peak to Peak’s waitlist on October 1st of each year. If your student is not offered a space for the upcoming school year and you are interested in attending the next year, you must re-apply during the next open enrollment period. If you apply one year, do not receive an offer, and re-apply during the open enrollment period the next year, your application for the subsequent year will receive a higher priority in the lottery. Please visit the Prospective Families page under the Enrollment section for more information.Can I enroll my student at Peak to Peak outside of the open enrollment window? Can they transfer in from another school at the semester break?No, open enrollment is the only time families can apply for enrollment at Peak to Peak. We do not accept students outside of the open enrollment process provided by BVSD.What enrollment preferences are taken into consideration when applying to Peak to Peak?Peak to Peak has 11 tiered preferences that weight a students application to enroll. You can view our most updated preferences in BVSD's JECC-R policy under Peak to Peak.If we accept a spot at Peak to Peak, do we have to reapply in future years or higher grades?No, once your student is accepted into Peak to Peak, they can stay at Peak to Peak until they graduate without needing to reapply.Are there any assessment or entry requirements to attend Peak to Peak?No, Peak to Peak is a public school and does not have any entry requirements.
Elementary School (Grades K-5)
What is the curriculum for the elementary school?
Peak to Peak Elementary School’s rigorous curriculum focuses on standards-based learning and uses the nationally recognized Core Knowledge Sequence as the basis for its content in Social Studies and Science. Our literature-based reading program emphasizes phonics, phonemic awareness and extensive practice which builds fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Our math program emphasizes computation and problem-solving. Peak to Peak believes that students should be placed according to their abilities rather than by strict age levels, so students are ability-grouped in math and reading classes. Teachers also use clustering and differentiation to meet all students’ needs.
What is the age requirement for kindergarten students?
Kindergartners in Boulder Valley School District must reach the age of five years on or before September 30th. See the Kindergarten Readiness page for more information.
How many classes are at each grade level?
Peak to Peak has three classes at each grade level, K-5.
How does Peak to Peak adjust its curriculum to meet the students’ academic needs?
Peak to Peak uses several methods to appropriately challenge students. Once enrolled at Peak to Peak, students are assessed in math and language arts to determine their current ability levels. They are placed in the appropriate math and language arts classes to meet their needs. Teachers also use strategies such as clustering and differentiation to challenge students in social studies, science, math, and language arts, in addition to world languages (French and Spanish), physical education, music, library, and art.
What “specialties” are offered to Peak to Peak elementary students?
Peak to Peak is committed to providing a solid liberal arts foundation in our elementary program. Elementary students receive instruction in physical education, art, Spanish, French, music, technology, and library use.
Do you offer extracurricular after-school activities?
Yes, Peak to Peak values the opportunity for students to connect and build relationships outside of the classroom setting. Teachers and staff members at each school level sponsor numerous Activities and Clubs that are listed on the linked page by school level.
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
What is the curriculum for the middle school?Peak to Peak Middle School offers a challenging sequence of coursework in math, English, science, social studies, world languages, visual and performing arts, music, technology, and physical education to prepare students for Peak to Peak’s focused, college preparatory high school. Students are encouraged to take a level of coursework that allows them to meet their goals for challenge and advancement.
How does Peak to Peak meet the needs of middle school students who are ready for more challenge?
Peak to Peak places middle and high school students in courses according to their ability and knowledge, not grade level or chronological age. Once enrolled in Peak to Peak, new middle school students are assessed in several curricular areas and asked for previous course level and performance information to determine appropriate course placement.
Can students who have not attended the elementary program succeed at Peak to Peak?
Definitely. Many of Peak to Peak’s current students did not attend our elementary school and are successfully learning in Peak to Peak’s middle and high school program. It is a good match for students who desire a rigorous academic program that provides excellent content while developing critical thinking skills.
What extracurricular activities and athletics are offered at the middle school level?
Peak to Peak encourages students to become involved in school-sponsored activities, and the school offers a wide range of excellent activities, including competitive sports. Peak to Peak values the opportunity for students to connect and build relationships outside of the classroom setting. Teachers and staff members at each school level sponsor numerous Activities and Clubs that are listed on the linked page by school level. Competitive sports team opportunities are listed on the Athletics page.
High School (Grades 9-12)
What distinguishes Peak to Peak High School?
High school students are supported and expected to pursue the most rigorous classes possible to prepare them for success in college and beyond. Students who demonstrate mastery of knowledge and skill may enroll in one or more of the 20 Advanced Placement courses offered in the high school. Extensive college counseling is integrated into classroom lessons and is founded on a personalized approach to helping students discover, apply, and be accepted to the best fit college of their choice. The school is an excellent match for students who want to work hard to achieve an outstanding education in a highly supportive environment. Peak to Peak is large enough to offer a variety of programs and small enough to be sure each student is known and valued as an individual of great potential and promise.
Peak to Peak’s high school features the Peak Scholar Award. This award was designed for students who desire a challenging, well-rounded high school experience, the Peak Scholar Diploma indicates to highly selective colleges the Peak Scholar’s commitment to excellence. The Peak Scholar Diploma demonstrates achievement in the following areas:
- Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams
- Honor Roll distinction
- A commitment to our community through community service
- Leadership or extracurricular activities.
Visit our Accomplishments page to see a list of historic and recent school and student awards and recognitions.
Peak to Peak’s High School has a strong college counseling program to support the college preparatory mission. To reach its goals, Peak to Peak high school emphasizes a well-rounded education in all liberal arts areas and, in an atmosphere of consistently high expectations, encourages students to strive to reach their full potential and employs highly qualified and experienced teachers and staff.
Why did Peak to Peak choose a 600-student high school?
The 600-student high school was chosen based on studies indicating that an ideal size for a high school ranges from 400 to 800 students. According to research by Kathleen Cotton on the benefits of small-scale schooling, “Findings on the affective and social effects of school size are extensive and highly consistent.” Her research indicates “… the superiority of small schools in the following areas: student attitudes toward school in general and particular subjects, personal and academic self-concepts of students, student sense of belonging, social bonding between teachers and students, teacher and administrator attitudes toward work and each other, and cooperation among colleagues. Research on social behavior shows that compared to large schools, small schools have higher student rates of extracurricular participation, higher attendance rates, lower dropout rates, and fewer behavior and discipline problems.”
What is Peak to Peak’s graduation rate? How many of the graduates go on to college?
Peak to Peak's graduation rate is consistently above 98% and the college acceptance is consistently at 100%.
How do Peak to Peak students’ scores on the ACT and SAT compare to other high schools?
Peak to Peak students have historically had the highest average ACT and SAT scores in the Boulder Valley School District. In 2017, the state of Colorado shifted from using the ACT to using the SAT as the primary high school assessment measure. See our Accomplishments page for past and present scores.
Does Peak to Peak High School offer a variety of courses, athletic teams, and extracurricular activities?
Colleges and universities seek students who maintain long-term commitments, make meaningful contributions including non-academic activities, and manage their time efficiently. Peak to Peak is committed to providing these types of activities to our students.
In addition to the music, theater, art, physical education, technology, and journalism courses that are offered as part of the curriculum, Peak to Peak High School offers extracurricular Activities and Clubs that provide opportunities for students to excel in areas such as leadership, sports, music, and the performing arts.
Since students at Peak to Peak work hard, it is also important to have fun. Peak to Peak students have participated in several dances each year and other activities such as school musicals, scavenger hunts on college campuses, spirit days, competitions, and open gyms.
Peak to Peak competes in CHSAA’s Metro League. Competitive sports team opportunities are listed on the Athletics page. Students wishing to enroll in a sport not offered by Peak to Peak are entitled to try out for, and participate on, teams at other BVSD schools.
What schools are Peak to Peak graduates being accepted to?
Peak to Peak’s goal is for all students to attend a college of their choice. One hundred percent of our graduates are accepted into a college of their choice and are offered millions in scholarship dollars. Matriculation data is updated annually for each graduating class.
What are you hearing from your alumni?
Peak to Peak graduated its first class in 2005. We consistently hear from our alumni how prepared they are for college, both in academics and in other ways. Our alumni program is currently being developed. As more and more graduates join the ranks of our alumni, programs to include these important members of our community are also becoming more integral to our long term vision. Peak publishes an alumni magazine, Piqued, with articles of interest to our alumni and the broader community.
How was the high school curriculum developed?
School founders consulted with numerous top-ranked public and private colleges and universities across the country to develop the required and elective courses. The intent was and continues to be for all students will meet or exceed the minimum requirements to attend the college of their choice and be ready to succeed in those programs. Peak to Peak’s instructional staff members have continued to adapt and elevate the curriculum to meet the needs of students attending Peak to Peak. As a charter school, we have the ability to be nimble in our approach and to make adjustments and improvements in an ongoing manner. Working closely with the Curriculum Committee, which includes parent volunteers and administrators, our teachers continuously work to build coursework that is relevant and rigorous.
What courses are required for graduation?
Peak to Peak’s graduation requirements have been developed based on the entrance requirements of top colleges and universities as well as through analysis of the components of a strong, academic high school curriculum. Students must successfully complete a minimum number of credits in order to graduate. More information and details can be found on the Graduation Requirements page and in our Graduation Requirements Policy (IKF).