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Parent Handbooks

admin December 1, 2015

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Mission Statement

The mission of St. Paul’s Academy is to provide academically capable and willing students a rigorous course of instruction, emphasizing leadership, achievement and moral and spiritual development in the Christian values.


Small class sizes, superb teachers, and a rigorous but nurturing learning environment foster: Students who interact with their classmates and teachers with kindness, inclusion and generosity; Individuals who make rational, ethical and intentional decisions; and Citizens who lead joyful and productive lives.


The following goals are accomplished through our creative and innovative instructional methods and our challenging curriculum, which encourages students to utilize their seven modes of intelligences:

  • To produce students who read, write and communicate effectively in English and who demonstrate proficiency in the sciences, math, civics, history and foreign language.
  • To offer students opportunities for physical fitness.
  • To produce students who appreciate and have knowledge of the fine arts: art, music and drama.
  • To produce students who think critically, analytically and creatively when solving problems and making decisions.
  • To produce students who take pride in their work and successfully apply their academic and artistic talents to produce quality work.
  • To raise social awareness and broaden students’ outlooks through participation in a wide range of experiences so that they learn to cooperate with and learn from people of diverse backgrounds and life situations.
  • To produce students who are lifelong learners who successfully apply their knowledge and skills to pursue further education or prepare themselves for the world and workplace.
  • To produce students with strong spiritual and moral values who recognize that they are serving God by serving others.
A Brief History

St. Paul’s Academy (SPA) is an independent Bellingham day school combining educational excellence with the warmth of a family environment. There are approximately 250 full-time students in grades K- 12 and another 100 part-time students in Little Epistles’ Preschool.

Founded in 1973 as the Little Epistles’ Pre-School, we have a long reputation for distinction in the community. In 1995, St. Paul’s Church constructed a new Parish Hall. St. Paul’s Primary School opened that winter in the Hall’s lower level with a kindergarten class of 11 students.

Growing steadily ever since, SPA added a grade level per year and classes as demand required. A successful one million dollar capital campaign led to the purchase of a 17,000 sq. ft. building just eight blocks up Walnut Street in December 2002. This modern North Campus can be used for up to 240 students, with two or three 14 to16 student classes per grade level. In September 2010, the Pre-School and Childcare Center opened their new, completely remodeled facility called St. Paul’s Activity Center at 3230 Meridian next to Cornwall Park.

In the fall of 2006, the board renamed the school, St. Paul’s Academy. Demolition of the old hospital occurred in the spring of 2007 to begin the process of constructing a new middle and high school on E. Victor, across the street from SPA. In the spring of 2010 construction of the upper school began and students moved into the new upper school in August 2011.

Education Excellence at St. Paul’s Academy

St. Paul’s Academy provides an excellent education that integrates faith and reason to build the whole student in body, mind, and spirit. Families from many faiths make up our school community including; Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, Sikh, Scientology, and many families who practice no faith. We attempt to teach the value of religion without converting our students.

To provide a foundation for faith, our students participate in age-appropriate Christian chapel services, which follow the Book of Common Prayer. Our chapel services and our curriculum instill Christian values and develop character. Our chapel teachings, through knowledge of the Old and New Testaments, encourage spiritual growth and foster ethical and moral maturity.

Participation with spiritual integrity and respect for diversity are characteristics of our worship in chapel. When Holy Eucharist Communion is celebrated, for example, it is open to any baptized student who may receive communion with parental permission and a non-Christian student may participate by receiving a blessing in the name of “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” which does not conflict with Islam or Judaism.

The School Chaplain leads our chapels and teaches our religious curriculum. The Chaplain would be pleased to answer questions concerning chapel services and education in the Christian tradition.




St. Paul’s Academy carefully considers each applicant for admission. The admissions Policy and Application Form can be found on line at or can be obtained from the office. In all instances, the interests of the student and the School are considered in equal measure. Students are expected to evidence good manners, tolerance, personal responsibility and a commitment to hard work. Grade placements are made in accordance with age and ability.

In addition we seek families who appreciate being part of a close-knit community and who value developmentally appropriate learning that nurtures academic excellence, social responsibility, and creativity. We do not admit students whose special needs exceed the capacity of the SPA staff to provide appropriate and equitable instruction. Students with significant special needs are redirected to the appropriate public school resources by the administration.

Adjustments and modifications may be made at the discretion of the faculty or administration. Students accept and support policies pertaining to:

Homework: set by the teacher, to be completed punctually by the student and reflect his/her effort and quality.

Schoolwork: in accordance with the expectations of parents, the teachers and the administration, the student strives to work within the curriculum, producing steady progress and quality work.

Chapel: chapel is an important part of our community and respectful attendance is required.

Discipline: according to a code designed to protect the rights of all school members and to encourage each student to develop qualities of self-respect, personal responsibility, caring and citizenship.

Uniform: the school’s uniform, well recognized and respected in the wider community, must be well-maintained and worn at all school functions, unless otherwise specified. Any substitution requires the express authorization of the administration. All items must be clearly marked with the student’s name. Non-logo outerwear may be worn outside at recess, but please have a logoed fleece or sweater for the classroom. Please Note: Students may wear the cross logo OR the knights logo.

If students come to school out of uniform, or in a uniform that is unclean or in poor repair (this includes shoes and socks) parents will be notified and asked to review and follow school policy.
Non-Discrimination Statement for Students and Programs:

St. Paul’s Academy (SPA) is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation SPA admits students of any race, religion, gender, color, sexual orientation, national origin and ethnicity to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities enerally accorded or made available to students at the school. SPA does not discriminate in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and school-administered programs.

Non-Discrimination Statement for Staff and Hiring:

St. Paul’s Academy is an equal employment opportunity employer. We comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws in providing our employees and applicants with equal opportunity in employment. Our decisions and criteria governing the employment relationship with all employees are non-discriminatory, and are based on job requirements and an individual’s skills and experience without regard to race, creed, color, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, veteran status, disability, protected genetic information, or any other status protected by state or federal law. All decisions related to employment are based upon the ability to perform the job, plus dependability, performance and reliability once hired.

This statement reaffirms our dedication to the principles of equal employment opportunity and our expectation that all employees will lend their full support to furthering St. Paul’s Academy success through implementation of these principles. Any employee who witnesses conduct inconsistent with the philosophy of this section should report the incident immediately to the Head of School or to the Personnel Committee of the Board as described in the Grievance Procedure section of this handbook.

St. Paul’s Community

St. Paul’s Academy seeks students and families who share and support the school’s educational philosophy, academic goals and spiritual foundation. We are committed to diversity in ethnicity, culture, economic status, religion and family structure. Our admissions decisions and financial aid program support this commitment.

Siblings of students currently attending the school and families returning to St. Paul’s Academy and Little Epistles’ Preschool enjoy some priority in our admissions process. However, all admissions decisions are at the discretion of the administration and the Admissions Committee, and are intended to support our conviction that a broadly diverse peer group is one of the most vital assets that we can give to our students.

Families of current LEPS and SPA students also recruit students to our program. Word of mouth is probably our best advertising for future students. Current SPA families earn a tuition stipend if they refer a new K-12 student to our schools that have never been enrolled in either program. When there are concerns about a student academically or socially, the student is placed on a probationary status until we determine whether or not we can accommodate the student’s needs.

  1. Students enter the school via the side door adjacent to the playground by 8:15 each morning, unless they are late or are under special arrangements. They leave the School at the appointed times under the supervision of teachers.
  2. During the day a student will only leave the school by prior arrangement with the teacher and the office, and only under the supervision of an authorized adult.
  3. During the day, in and around the school, students do not engage in conversation with visitors unless a teacher is present.
  4. Fire and earthquake safety and evacuation procedures must be recalled and followed.
  5. Students do not interfere or compromise any of the school’s security arrangements and must make reasonable effort to remain familiar with expectations and procedures.

The curriculum reflects the school’s desire to offer students a blend of traditional and challenging learning. Teachers use innovative practices and procedures to instruct students and develop curriculum units. The curriculum follows and exceeds the requirements of Washington State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public
Instruction (OSPI).

The implementation of the school’s curriculum is the responsibility of the professional staff. Our teachers employ a myriad of programs to ensure that the students master the expected learning outcomes and develop a life-long love for learning.

Field Trips

Apart from occasional celebrations, the purpose of a field trip is to support the curriculum and learning. Students travel by private car, licensed bus operators or they are required to walk. For all field trips, the organizers are required to follow school policy. Parents or guardians must give signed consent for each trip. Parents driving students must have a valid driver’s license, a record of their driving history (driving abstract) and a record of current insurance on file in the office.


Each night and on weekends, homework in some form is expected of every St. Paul’s student. Assignments may include missed or incomplete work, research, reading, projects or recommendations from the teacher. Homework is marked and a record of performance is maintained for each student.


St. Paul’s Academy is an independent school, certified by the Washington State Board of Education. As such, attendance satisfies Washington’s compulsory school attendance statute. The State of Washington approves private schools based on their compliance with minimum standards pertaining to (1) length of school year and school day, (2) faculty certifications, (3) safeguarding of permanent records, (4) compliance with reasonable health and fire safety requirements, (5) curriculum, and (6) an up-to-date policy statement (this “Parent Guide”) regarding the administration and operation of the school.

The School is accredited through the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), and is a subscriber member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools.

The Faculty

St. Paul’s Academy capitalizes on small classes with motivated teachers. All teachers are certificated and hold a]college degree in education. SPA teachers also hold endorsements in the their areas of expertise. Among the]important characteristics shared by the faculty are the gift of rapport with students and the personal spark that separates distinguished teachers from merely competent ones.

They also share an unusual commitment to the school, which is evident to students and parents alike. Their immediate teaching responsibilities involve the implementation of the school’s curricula. This is achieved using sound teaching strategies and best practices.

The school affords the faculty many opportunities for professional development. Many teachers also endeavour to advance their professionalism at their personal expense.

Specialist teachers teach Spanish, music and PE.


Weekly Emails

Each Friday, you will receive an email from the administration with highlights of the closing week and reminders for the week ahead. There will be attachments that you need such as order forms, calendars and other important information.

Additionally, please check with your classroom teacher on what you might except with regard to classroom communication. Primary teachers tend to send short daily emails to families. In the upper elementary grades, you might receive a weekly email, but also have access to a secure class webpage.

Progress Reports

Parents receive three formal reports describing the progress and performance of the student each year. These reports precede scheduled conferences in order for recipients to acquaint themselves with the information and prepare questions and comments. The reports are part of the student’s permanent record.

During the year, parents may expect more informal letters, notes, e-mails and telephone calls, keeping them apprised of the student’s progress.

Parent – Teacher Conferences

Formal parent – teacher conferences are scheduled each year to promote the interests of each student and to ensure progress and growth. To facilitate parent/guardian participation, students are released early from classes. Parents and teachers are, of course, encouraged to arrange a conference at any time when the need arises. The Head of School is always willing to participate.

If parents have expressed a concern to a teacher or other faculty member and they do not feel that the issue was resolved, they have the option of talking to the Head of School. The Head of School will work with the parent to clarify the issue, develop possible solutions and decide on a solution that may resolve the issue. Then the Head of School will talk to the faculty member about the issue. The Head of School will attempt to convey the parent’s concerns and suggest possible solutions. It may be necessary to bring the parent in to develop solutions that meet the needs of the student, teacher and parent. The parent has the option of going to the Board if there is no resolution.

Parent Grievance Policy

On occasion parents have questions and concerns about their student’s classroom curriculum or social life. We expect that all such concerns will first be expressed directly to the student’s teacher. Though this is sometimes difficult for parents and teachers alike, it is far more productive than relying solely on administrative intercession.

If a matter cannot be resolved with the teacher, the parent may refer the matter to the Head of School. The Head of School will be pleased to help parents and guardians confer with teachers regarding sensitive issues. An investigation, conferencing if needed, and a decision by the Head of School will ensue. Concerns about the Head of School’s decisions should be expressed to the Head of School, first. If concerns persist, the matter may be submitted in writing to the Administration Committee of the School Board for final resolution. Decisions by the
Committee are final and not subject to appeals.

All parties have an obligation to protect the image and reputation of the School. Constructive criticism in the interests of improvement is always welcome. Conditions in the tuition contract are not grieveable.



Students are expected to exhibit self-control and exemplary behavior. Students are required to uphold the image and reputation of their school at all times. Discipline problems are rare at St. Paul’s Academy. Visitors frequently comment on the positive atmosphere and safe environment that they invariably encounter.

Basic School Rules
  1. Students are to respect each other and adults. This includes using respectful language and behavior.
  2. Students are to respect the rights and property of others.
  3. Students are expected to comply with adult requests.
  4. Students are expected to do their work.
Discipline Goals

The goal of the discipline policy at SPA is to develop self-discipline in every student. Students are taught to be responsible for their actions. The school-wide rules are simple and few in number. The system is designed to reward appropriate student behavior as often as possible and to provide fair, uniform and consistent disciplinary action when necessary. It serves as a diagnostic tool to illuminate problem areas and help change behavior.

When a discipline issue extends beyond the particular classroom policy and it is necessary to remove the student, the following will occur:

  1. The student will be sent to the office to talk with the administrator. The administrator will then confer with the teacher. After an appropriate amount of time, the student will be sent back to the classroom.
  2. If a second incident (not necessarily related to the first) happens within the same quarter, the parent(s) of the student will be called. Depending on the severity of the incident, a parent, teacher and administrator conference may be held. At the conference specific behavioral expectations and consequences will be established.
  3. If a third incident happens within the same quarter, a parent(s) is called and the student is sent home for the remainder of the day. At this time the parent(s), student, administrator and teacher (if available) will discuss the issues involved in the dismissal and the consequences of further violations.
  4. If the discipline problem persists, the student may be dismissed from school permanently.
Prohibited Items
  • Any item that constitutes a weapon (violations must be reported to local authorities according to State and Federal law)
  • Items of considerable value
  • Chewing gum
  • Drugs, tobacco or alcohol – any illegal substance
  • Fireworks, matches and lighters
  • Electronic devises (cell phones, personal music players, electronic game devices) unless cleared by the administration
  • Offensive publications, software or games
  • Other items which, in the sole discretion of the Head of School, would disrupt the orderly operation of the School
Substance Abuse Policy

The school has a no tolerance position on substance abuse. SPA is committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the students, families and staff members it serves by assuring that a drug-free workplace is maintained. The unlawful possession, use or distribution of controlled substances, including tobacco and alcohol on school premises by students and employees is prohibited. Illegal use of a controlled substance by students is cause for suspension or expulsion. The exception is the use of wine to be used for the sole purpose of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist or pre-approved school sponsored events.

Student Records

St. Paul’s Schools maintains academic and behavioral records on all students. These include admission applications, records from previous schools, report cards, attendance, standardized test results, health records and general correspondence that pertains to the student. Students’ records are handled with the utmost confidentiality and in accordance with Washington State Law.

Health Records

Documentation regarding immunization and health are components of the student’s records. Washington State Law requires that the school have on file proof of immunization for measles, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rubella and hepatitis B, or a signed waiver from the parent or guardian. The school regards the student’s application as incomplete until their immunization documentation is complete and on file.

Additional documents pertaining to health must be on file at the office. These are:
1) A health report form
2) A health information sheet
3) Authorization / consent to treat a minor.
The staff is available to assist with all of these requirements.


Student records are confidential to protect the rights and privacy of both students and parents. Federal law requires parental permission before disclosing information, other than directory information, from student educational records.

Directory information is not covered by the privacy law and includes a student’s name, address, phone number, photo, date of birth, dates of attendance, participation in activities, awards received, parent’s name, and similar information. Information and photographs are sometimes released in school, church, and community newspapers or on broadcast media when students receive awards or participate in school activities. Information may also be shared with parent groups when they publish their school student directories.

In most cases, parents have the right to refuse to permit a school to release information about their children. Notification of special restrictions can be indicated on the Registration Form and submitted to the School office.

Parents have the right to review any or all student records with the Head of School.

School Health and Medication at School

In the interests of everyone, students must refrain from attending school if fever or other signs of sickness are apparent. Students should remain out of school until they have been fever and/or vomit free for at least 24 hours.

The guidelines for dispensing medication to students are specified by Washington State law. Medication in the hands of students is not permitted at the school. If a student is required to take medicine during school hours, it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that they deliver all medication to the office in original containers together with the proper forms completed.

The student’s doctor and parent must fill out the proper forms, which can be obtained from a physician or the school office and the medication must be in the original container from the pharmacist. The dosage on the container and the dosage on the doctor’s directions must match. The student must come to the school office to take the medication.

The school will never dispense medication of any kind (including cough drops, ointments, Tylenol, cough syrup, etc.) without written directions on the school’s form that are signed by the child’s physician and parent (both signatures are required).

Medical equipment that is specific to a student, such as Epi pens and inhalers, must be in good condition and available to the staff of the school. Detailed instructions on the use of such equipment, together with follow-up instructions must be provided.

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that medication has not exceeded the expiration date.
First Aid

In compliance with State law, most school staff are trained and certificated for first aid and child CPR. For occurrences of relatively minor injury, such as scrapes and bruises, the child will be taken to the office and attended to by first-aid personnel. The child’s medical records are checked and treatment given. In more serious cases, the school will immediately attempt to contact parents or authorized persons, including physicians or emergency medical services.



Our students come from some of the most supportive families in any community, anywhere. This is manifested in countless examples of support, generosity and direct help to the school.


Our school actively encourages and welcomes volunteers. We believe that the experiences of the students are greatly enhanced through the wide variety of skills and knowledge that are forthcoming through voluntary support.


Parents Actively Lending Support (PALS) is the parent group that oversees our volunteer program and certain fundraising projects. A member of the PALS’ group serves on the School Board, and is liaison for the activities of PALS and those of the trustees.

The goals of PALS are to:

  • Support the activities, goals and objectives for the school as described in this Guide,
  • Plan and implement activities and events that promote a sense of community at the school,
  • Promote volunteerism and increase parent participation,
  • Support fundraising, and
  • Promote the image and the reputation of the school.


Basic requirements

Children are normally placed according to their age on September 1st . Applicants in the K-12th grade program will also be required to undergo a readiness assessment before acceptance.


Students new to the school are required to pay a $50 application fee, to accompany or precede their initial Registration Form. This fee is only assessed one time. Applications are accepted for students of any age, and the date of application may be used to prioritize students when they register. The Admissions Policy is online at

Registration priority

Parents may submit Registration Forms at the beginning of February for enrollment in the next academic year.

Registration Forms for new students are prioritized in the following order:

  • Returning students
  • New students from families with returning students

A non-refundable Registration Fee must accompany the Registration Form.


Tuition and fees paid by parents constitute approximately 80% of the school’s revenue. The balance comes from contributions and fundraising, in which parents volunteer extensively. Tuition for the 2013-2014 school year is a flat rate of $7200 per year, per child.

Each spring parents contract to pay tuition for the program in which their student enrolls. To permit the school to arrange for teachers and space, the payment is due June 1st. No refunds will be made in cases of absence, suspension or early withdrawal. There are three tuition payment options available: If the annual amount is paid in full by June 1st, each student in Grades K-12 will receive a discount of $300, Preschool $50 (excepting Toddlers).

Alternately, three payment plans, serviced by FACTS Management Company, are available: 10 Month Plan with payments due from June 1st, 2013 – March 1st, 2014 with FACTS assessing a $50 fee per family; and a 3-Pay Plan with payments due June 1, 2013, September 1, 2013 and December 1, 2013 with FACTS assessing a $25 fee to administer this program. See the Business Office for details.

All parents pay a one-time $50 application fee the first time their student enrolls in LEPS or SPA. Then a registration fee is paid each year per student enrolled. These fees are non-refundable. Please see the Tuition Contract for amounts and other requirements.

Financial Aid

A portion of SPA tuition may be waived as financial aid to families with demonstrated need. Details of this program are available in the office. Applications, supported by the parents’ tax returns, are required.

New Family Referral Bonus

Currently enrolled families will be awarded a $500 check in January 2014 for referring a new family to the K-12 program. New families are those who have never had a student enrolled in LEPS or SPA. We will require written verification before the bonus is awarded. You will receive a $500 check for each new family you refer.



Regular and punctual attendance is both a school policy and a requirement of the law. State law requires that a written note from a parent or guardian explaining a student’s absence be furnished upon return to school. Attendance and punctuality are checked daily by the teacher and are reported to the office and maintained on file. Inquiries will commence in cases where students are absent. Tardy students, accompanied by a parent or guardian, must report to the office in order to fill out a report slip before they can enter their class.

Taking students out of school during instructional time is strongly discouraged.

School Supplies

The School supplies textbooks and other learning materials. Lists of supplies needed by the student are formulated by teachers and made available to parents in advance of the commencement of the school year.

2013 – 2014 School Year

The St. Paul’s Academy’s academic year consists of 182 instructional days. We guarantee at least 180 days if school has been cancelled due to inclement weather. A calendar of important school dates is maintained on the website for reference and sent home monthly.

School Hours

St. Paul’s Academy Lower School office is open from 8:00AM until 4:00PM Monday to Friday every instructional day. During summer vacation, the office is open only during scheduled hours as stated on voice mail and posted on the front door of the lower school.

The office is closed on state and federal holidays.

Daily Schedule – SPA LOWER SCHOOL (Grades K-5)

Teachers use their mornings to prepare for the day. As such, we ask that students remain in the care of a parent until 8:00am. If you need to drop your child off before that time, please ask the front desk about our Morning Care program for K-5 students.

All classes begin promptly at 8:15am.

CHAPEL (T-TH) Different times for different age groups Morning Recess – K-5 students – 15 minutes, at the scheduling and discretion of the teacher.

Lunch/Recess (tentative):
  • K-1– 11:00-11:35
  • Gr 2-3 12:00-12:35
  • Gr 4-5 12:15-1:55
  • K 2:45
  • Gr 1 2:55
  • Gr 2 3:05
  • Gr 3 3:15
  • Gr 4 & 5 3:30

For purposes of security and supervision, it is important that all students are picked up after school promptly. Please contact the office if an emergency has occurred and you are not able to pick up your child at dismissal.

Inclement Weather

In instances where driving conditions may be difficult, the decision regarding attendance at school rests with the parent or guardian. For students remaining at home during inclement weather, an excused absence will be given.

Regardless of conditions, every attempt will be made to keep the school open and functioning. The policy regarding school closures will usually be consistent with Bellingham Public Schools, which will be broadcast on radio stations: KAFE 104.3 FM, KGMI 790 AM, KISM 92.9 FM. We also try to have it announced on Channel 4 and 5. Unlike the public school system, however, we do not delay the beginning of the school day on inclement days. We will only make up snow days if the number of days in school falls below 180 days. If we do not follow Bellingham School District, we initiate an emergency phone tree through room parents!



St. Paul’s Academy is a Washington non-profit member corporation qualified as tax-exempt under paragraph 501c(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Each parent or guardian of a currently enrolled student in the School qualifies as a member of the corporation. An annual meeting of the members is held each October in accordance with the corporation’s bylaws.

Board of Trustees

SPA has a minimum of thirteen member Board of Trustees, with responsibilities encompassing governance, financial stability and support for the Head of School and non-profit corporation. Board members work extensively through a number of committees. Qualifications are described in the SPA By-Laws, which are available in the office. The Board holds regular meetings on the third Tuesday of scheduled months throughout the year. Board minutes are available to the school community.

Financial Statement

Financial Statements are available upon request.