• River Valley Charter School enrolls students annually via a blind lottery system.
  • Applications accepted for all grades during the annual enrollment period which begins the first school day after New Years Day. 
  • Approximately 32 new kindergarten students are enrolled each year.
  • Other grades are enrolled as openings become available. 
  • Preference is given to siblings and residents of Amesbury, Newburyport, Pentucket and Triton School districts. 
  • Waitlists are maintained and are used to offer admission when a spot opens up anytime up until February vacation. 
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What is Montessori?

The Montessori method of teaching addresses the whole child and was developed more than 100 years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori. Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on self-directed activity on the part of the child and observation on the part of the teacher (often called a director, directress, or guide). It stresses the importance of adapting the child's learning environment to his or her developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing abstract concepts and practical skills. It is also characterized by the use of self-correcting materials for introduction and learning of various concepts.

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Can I visit the school?

Yes, prospective parents and educators alike are invited to observe in our classrooms. Observations take place during morning hours, during the students’ extended work period. Observations are for adults only and may be scheduled by calling the school office at 978-465-0065. 

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How many classrooms do you have?

River Valley has a full-day kindergarten program called Kinderhaus made up of 2 classrooms of 16 five-year-olds with a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. We have four lower elementary classrooms (E1) and four upper elementary (E2) classrooms, each with approximately 25 students. In each elementary classroom, there is a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. E1 classes are comprised of grades one through three combined, and E2 classes consist of grades four through six combined. Our Middle School program serves students in grades seven and eight, with teachers for individual subject areas.

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What is your maximum enrollment?

Per our charter, River Valley may enroll up to 288 students in grades K through eight.

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How can I enroll my child at River Valley Charter School?

Any child who is of age and a Massachusetts resident may apply to River Valley. Enrollment takes place through a lottery each March for potential entrance the following school year. Each fall, we have openings for approximately 32 new five-year-old children in our Kinderhaus class and potentially a few openings in the other age groups up through our Middle School program. In the lottery, applications are selected and then placed in a ranked order for entrance into the school. When there are more applicants than openings in a given age group, the additional names are maintained on wait lists.

The categories of wait lists are: 

  • Sibling Wait List: applicants who are siblings of current students 
  • General Wait List: applicants from our chartered region (Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, and West Newbury)
  • Non-Resident Wait List: residents of Massachusetts out of chartered region
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Is there a tuition fee?

No. River Valley is a public school and students attend tuition-free.

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If my child is placed on the wait list, do I need to reapply for the next lottery to keep them on the list?

Yes. Students who enter a lottery and are not offered admission will need to re-enter subsequent lotteries each year to be consdiered for enrollment.

Whenever a student receives an offer for enrollment and declines, he or she is then removed from the waitlist and must reapply to be considered at a later date.  It is the family’s responsibility to keep the school informed of any changes in contact information.  

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How are Commonwealth charter schools funded?

For each child that a Commonwealth charter school enrolls, it receives a tuition amount from the state equal to a per-pupil amount calculated by the Department's School Finance Unit. The state then deducts the same amount from the sending district's (school district pertaining to the municipality in which the student resides) state aid account. Like other public schools, Commonwealth charter schools are eligible to receive federal and state grant funds. Commonwealth charter schools may apply for private grants and receive contributions as well.

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Does River Valley Charter School serve students with special needs or whose primary language is not English?

Yes. Charter schools cannot discriminate in admissions on the basis of special need or English language proficiency (or any other protected status), and in fact, RVCS welcomes diversity in its school population.

Once admitted, students who are special needs or English language learners must be appropriately identified, assessed, and served in accordance with federal and state requirements. For special education, this requires a full- or part-time special education administrator and additional staff to meet the needs of student's Individual Education Programs.

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What do the state curriculum frameworks and state tests mean for charter schools?

All public schools, including charter schools, must administer the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests. These tests are based on the curriculum frameworks adopted by the Board of Education. As a public Montessori school, our challenge is to remain faithful to the Montessori philosophy while meeting the requirements placed on all Massachusetts public schools. River Valley Charter School maintains a highly-qualified, Montessori-trained faculty and adheres to the Montessori tradition in its teaching and learning activities, while its students consistently score well on national and state-level standardized tests.

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When does school begin and end each day?

School begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3:10 p.m. Kinderhaus students follow the same schedule.

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Is transportation provided for students?

Transportation is provided for Newburyport residents only via the local school district bussing service. Registration for bus service takes place through the Newburyport Superintendent’s office, and a fee is charged for a yearly bus pass. Students who are not residents of Newburyport are typically dropped off and picked up by parents. Many families form carpools to make this process easier. There is also public bus transportation within the cities of Salisbury, Amesbury, and Newburyport through the Merrimack Valley Transit Authority. 

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Do you offer subjects such as music, art, physical education and language?

Students participate in art, music, and physical education classes each week. Grades 3-6 also participate in technology and engineering classes. Grades 4-6 have a dedicated science class outside of the general education classroom. Middle school students have electives in each of the "specials" categories. In addition, children have the opportunity to join any of several bands (grades 4-8) and chorus groups (all grades). River Valley does not currently offer a foreign language program. The school offers an afterschool Spanish enrichment program.  

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Does River Valley have organized sports teams?

Yes, some. RIver Valley has a fall cross country team and a spring track and field team. The school also offers various activities as part of an after-school enrichment program. Some of these are more physically oriented. 

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Do you have a lunch program?

Yes, River Valley makes a school lunch available to every child in the school every day that the school is in session through contract with an outside lunch provider. Lunches are prepared and delivered daily. (River Valley does not have an onsite cafeteria.) Alternatively, students may bring lunches from home. In keeping with our commitment to a holistic education and ecological stewardship, we encourage families to make healthy food choices and to minimize trash by using reusable containers for lunches. 
As a public school, River Valley Charter School provides a free or reduced price lunch to any qualifying child. 

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How do children adapt once they leave your school after eighth-grade?

We track the accomplishments of our graduate students, and they are quite impressive. Our students go on to attend both public and private high schools, and they are very often leaders among their peers. Some of River Valley’s students have gone on to successful colleges and universities around the country. Some of our alumni are now part of the workforce and include engineers, artists, veterinarians, doctors, PR agents, etc. 

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Are parents able to volunteer at the school?

Yes. Each River Valley family is encouraged to volunteer at the school every year. From driving on field trips to reading with children in the classroom and serving on committees, there are many ways in which parents can participate.

** Our Enrollment window for 2023-2024 school year is now open.  


Students with diverse learning needs, including students who may have disabilities, may require special education, are English language learners, and/or are economically disadvantaged, are encouraged to apply and will receive appropriate accommodations and support services.