Frequently Asked Questions about The Primary School

What is The Primary School (TPS)?

TPS is an expanded vision of school. It is an integrated health, education, and community partnership model dedicated to dramatically improving the health and educational outcomes for the highest-need children.
What is TPS’s relationship with Facebook? Is this a Facebook School?
The Primary School is not designed or intended to serve children of Facebook employees.
The Primary School is an independent non profit organization. It has no legal or programmatic connection to Facebook. It does receive financial support through Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's philanthropic donor advised fund.

Will TPS be part of the Ravenswood District? Is TPS a charter school?
TPS is a private, non-profit school developed in partnership with community organizations and health care providers. We are not a charter school and are independent of the district.
When is TPS opening?
TPS will open in Fall 2016, beginning with full-time school for four year olds and ongoing parent-based programming for their parents. Over the next six months TPS will roll out additional parent-based and student programming to families with children born after September 1, 2012. 

What is the cost of attending?
There is no cost for children to attend The Primary School. Like most public school options, TPS will provide instruction, school materials and meals at no cost to students families. TPS will have a uniform policy, but will also work with families to provide uniform shirts at low to no cost to families. 
What makes TPS different from other schools?                                                                     
Our approach breaks down barriers between health care and education, and early childhood and K-12 education, by bringing parents, teachers, and health professionals together in a team-based approach to support each child’s growth. By integrating education, health, and family support services starting at birth, TPS will expand the traditional definition of “school” in order to prepare all children to succeed in college, career, and life.
TPS provides:
·     Full-time education for children starting at age three and lasting through the student’s transition to high school.
·     An integrated health component facilitated by a deep partnership with the Ravenswood Family Health Center (RFHC); and,
·     Support for parents starting at pregnancy and lasting throughout the child's enrollment in the school.

What are the requirements to apply now?
1.     Live in East Palo Alto or the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park.
2.     Meet the age requirements (see table below).
3.     Attend a group or one-on-one orientation to learn about the program.

What ages of students are you accepting?
Over the next six months, we will be admitting children born on or before September 1, 2012.  Look at the table below to see when you should apply.

What type of families is TPS looking to serve?
TPS is seeking children and families who can benefit the most from our program of extensive academic and wraparound supports. This includes families that have struggled with economic security and stability, families that may have a history of traumatic experiences at home, and families needing educational opportunities to extend beyond the traditional school day and year. We also seek to support children who have complex medical, social, or educational needs.
We are actively recruiting children and families served by Ravenswood Family Health Center (RFHC), our health partner, to ensure that families receive the greatest benefit from our integrated model. RFHC is the primary partner of TPS and will work with us to provide many of the health-related services that kids and families need.

Neither my child or I receive healthcare at Ravenswood Family Health Center, can my family apply? 
Yes, families who receive their primary care outside of Ravenswood Family Health Center are also welcomed to apply. TPS will work with families to develop partnerships with each child's primary health care provider. 

Will you support families who don’t speak English?
Yes, we have staff and community partners that can reach out to families who do not feel comfortable speaking English. We are committed to language not being a barrier to participation.

Do families have to be “low-income” to apply for a spot?
We know that family income can be a strong factor in health and educational outcomes, but also know that many other things can create challenges for families, which our whole child approach will address. Our school is not intended for families who can afford other independent options for their children.

Will you admit students with special needs?
Yes, our team is prepared to provide services and opportunities to children with special needs.

My family could really benefit from TPS but I just found out about TPS, after your first Lottery, can I be added to the Waitlist?
If you live in East Palo Alto or Belle Haven and have a child born between September 1st, 2011 - August 31st, 2012, you can have your family added to our waitlist. It is unlikely that a seat will become available and we recommend that all families on our waitlist look for alternative preschool and elementary school options. Please call our family recruitment line to be added to our waitlist: 650-331-9076
My child was born before September 1, 2011; can my family still apply?
Children who were born before September 1, 2011 are not eligible to apply for The Primary School. Our model seeks to serve children and their families earlier than most traditional schools or programs, and we will only be recruiting families with children born on or after September 1st, 2012 during our next two lotteries. After February 2017, we will only recruit families prenatally or at birth.
Can a family living outside of EPA or Belle Haven apply?
We are committed to serving families and children who live in East Palo Alto or Belle Haven and will not have capacity to serve those living outside of these boundaries.
Can families apply for Tinsley and TPS?
Families that apply for TPS will not forfeit their right to be part of any district or private school and can still apply to any programs they qualify for based on their residency.
Where does a family go to apply? When or how soon?
The TPS team will be organizing Orientations, where we will share more detailed information about our model. We will hold group Orientations at different locations in the community (community centers, churches, partner spaces, etc.) at a variety of times and days. We will also offer 1-1 orientations for families who need alternative times due to complex work or life schedules.
We have an interest list, and we will contact all families on that list and make sure they are aware of Orientation dates and times. Families can be added to this list by contacting the Primary School team via phone, 650-331-9076, or email
What will be available to families before formal, full-time school begins for their children? 
Before students start with us full-time at age three, their parents will participate in group-based coaching and playgroups, attend regular workshops around topics that are important to them, and participate in activities with other families. Family engagement is a critical part of our program and participation is expected. 

Will TPS provide child care for my child before age three? 
While TPS does not provide full-time child care or preschool before the age of three, we will have childcare available during any parent/family-focused programming to support the parent/caregiver's ability to participate.
Where will the school be located?
We have secured a permanent site on Weeks Street, near Ravenswood Clinic, and we are working with the city to obtain the necessary permits to build a new campus. For the first few years, we will be co-locating with the Ravenswood Child Development Center, which is part of our larger programmatic partnership with the Ravenswood City School District.