What is a Minnesota Independent Public School?

What is Northwest Passage High School?

Northwest Passage High School is an independent charter school. If you want to get technical, we are Independent School District number 4049. “Independent” is typically a word associated with private schools, but in our case, we are a public charter school with open enrollment and no tuition fees. 

We are located in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. We are about a 20 minute drive on either 35 or 94 due north of downtown Minneapolis.

Our school, enrollment around 180, is about a five minute drive from Coon Rapids High School. Coon Rapids High School, enrollment 2000, is one of the nine high schools in the Anoka-Hennepin school district which is the largest district in the state. 

Despite our proximity to this school, and our location smack dab in the middle of the district, we are totally independent from it.

Their policies are not our policies and vice versa. 

A few people may think that any school that isn’t a public school must be a private school. That’s not right either. We are independent, not private. 

It is estimated that approximately 7% of all Minnesota students attended charter schools in the 2019-2020 school year. Northwest Passage High School is one of 21 grades 9-12 charters in the state. 

As a Minnesota independent public school, we operate with the guidance and oversight of the Minnesota Department of Education and our charter authorizers from Bethel University. That does not mean we are not accountable to others as well. In our case, we work with our school board, our families, the students and the staff. Taking notes from this collection of stakeholders, we are an agile school that is responsive to our student’s needs and wants in 2021 and beyond. 

NWPHS receives a majority of our funding from the state via per pupil funding. These costs help us provide the type of progressive, student-focused education that we value. We also rely on fundraisers and donations from the community to help with expedition supplies.

If you have questions about our philosophy, we have answers.

Still have questions about independent charter schools, we’ve got you covered.

In short:

  • A Minnesota Independent Public School is its own-self contained school district
  • Independent schools can be located within a more well known district but operate totally independent from it
  • Independent schools are accountable to our stakeholders such as our families, our authorizers and our staff.