Admissions FAQs

What is a charter school?
Paul Cuffee School is an independently-operated public charter school for school-aged students in kindergarten through grade twelve who live in the City of Providence.  All charter public schools in our state are required to submit annual reports to The Rhode Island Department of Education to ensure continuously improving academic achievement, highly qualified teachers, fiscal sustainability and leadership accountability. Paul Cuffee School’s Board of Trustees, faculty and staff are committed to meeting and exceeding those requirements every year.

Why choose Paul Cuffee School?
Parents and students choose to attend Paul Cuffee School, instead of one of the local district schools, because of its reputation for academic excellence, caring about students and families, innovative programs, excellent teachers, smaller class sizes, respectful school culture, and other features that meet their needs.

Who can attend Paul Cuffee School?
All school-age children residing in the City of Providence are eligible to apply.

Is there an application fee?
No. There is no cost associated with applying to Paul Cuffee School. Mailing costs for application materials may be avoided if applications are completed online.

How old must my child be to be admitted into kindergarten or first grade?
Students must be 5 years old on or before September 1 to be admitted into kindergarten and 6 years old on or before September 1 to be admitted into first grade.

How are students admitted to the school?
All parents or guardians must submit an application for their son or daughter’s admission before the annual application deadline to be included in the state-monitored, random admissions lottery. Rhode Island law governing charter school admissions mandates such a lottery when more students apply than the school can accommodate. Students selected from our school’s annual lottery are awarded admission based on their randomized rank order and the number of vacancies available in each grade level.

Is there an application deadline?
Yes. All required application materials must be received by the determined application deadline in order to be included in the lottery.

When will the lottery take place?
The lottery for the 2022-2023 year is scheduled for April 1, 2022. Please note that this date may be changed at the discretion of the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education.

Do siblings of current students receive special consideration?
Yes. Enrollment preference is given to applicants whose siblings are already enrolled at the school. When a lottery takes place, siblings will be admitted first if space is available.

May I schedule a class visit? (Not permitted during COVID)
Because we receive more than 1,000 applications each year, we cannot accommodate visit requests for students who have not been admitted, but encourage all prospective students and their families to attend a virtual Paul Cuffee School Open House in December or January. While we wish we could do in-person visits, this year we’re only offering virtual open houses to maintain our health-safety priorities.

How many openings does the school anticipate each year?
On average there are 60 openings in kindergarten, 3 openings in sixth grade, 25 openings in ninth grade, and limited openings in all other grades.

What is the average class size?
Usually there are 21 students per class in our middle and high school programs, and approximately 20 students per class in the elementary school. This year, approximately ½ of our students elected in-person learning with the other ½ choosing distance learning. Virtual instruction is provided while classes are in session for those students who remain at home. Teaching partners are employed at each building and grade level to provide classroom support and lower the student-teacher ratios.

Does the school provide transportation?
Yes, for in-person learning, student eligibility for school bus transportation is determined by the distance from the household to the school. For kindergarten through sixth grade, students must live 1 mile away or more. Students in seventh and eighth grades must live 1.5 miles away to be eligible. High School students in grades 9-12 must live 2.5 miles away to qualify for a free RIPTA bus pass.

Are Advanced Placement Courses Offered at Paul Cuffee High School?
To fulfill their grade-level requirements, high school students in good standing may take Advanced Placement courses and exams to earn college credit. Current AP classes include:

  • AP English Language + Composition
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP Human Geography
  • AP Spanish Language + Culture
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Studio Art: 2D Design
  • AP US Government + Politics

What about College Placement and Career Readiness?
To encourage students to work hard in school and make choices that will positively impact their future, college visits and career fairs are coordinated at the Paul Cuffee Middle School every year. To maintain the health-safety of everyone involved, these events and field trips have been cancelled during COVID. 

By the time students reach high school, college and career guidance and instruction is offered during their Skills, Enrichment and Academic Support (SEAS) periods. In these sessions, students do everything from exploring different careers and college majors to selecting and completing applications for colleges, universities and post-secondary training programs that would be a good match for their career aspirations. In addition to SEAS, the Academic Dean and Post-Secondary School Teaching Partner are available to provide one-on-one assistance.

What about after-school programs and sports? 
PCS offers a broad range of extracurricular activities for students at all grade levels including sports, clubs, homework help and other enrichment activities. The after-school program curriculum is based on monthly themes that allow students to explore their creativity and enhance their academics through project-based learning. 

The After-School Club provides supervised programming for K-8 students until 5:30 p.m. Fees are based on household income and eligibility for free and reduced lunches. Parents or caregivers must pick up their son or daughter by 5:30 to avoid paying late fees.

  • Elementary School Athletics (Grades K-5)
    • Co-ed Soccer
    • Co-Ed Basketball
  • Middle School Athletics (Grade 6-8) – (Rhode Island Principals Committee on Athletics  and independent school leagues)
    • Boys and Girls Soccer
    • Co-Ed Volleyball
    • Girls Basketball
    • Boys Basketball – A Team
    • Boys Basketball – B Team
    • Softball
    • Baseball
    • Co-ed Track and Field
  • High School Athletics (Grades 9-12) (Interscholastic and Independent school leagues)
    • Boys Soccer
    • Girls Soccer
    • Co-Ed Volleyball
    • Girls Basketball
    • Boys Basketball – Junior Varsity
    • Boys Basketball – Varsity
    • Softball
    • Baseball
    • Co-ed Track and Field