School Waitlists Update

School Waitlists Update
Posted on 06/01/2017

Choice Enrollment School Waitlists Update

The district received and processed nearly 6,000 choice enrollment applications for next school year. More than 3,200 students received a requested choice assignment, and more than 2,800 students received their first choice.

Although more than 50 percent of the students who participated in the choice process received a placement, many students are still on school waitlists. Typically, staff do not move waitlists that positively or negatively affect staffing at attendance area schools. Due to the $50 million budget shortfall for 2017-18, the district is conducting additional analysis around waitlist moves.

As a result of this additional analysis, waitlists at attendance area schools will not move until district staff review updated spring staffing allocations in mid-June. Waitlist moves at option schools will continue through August 31 based on current school staffing and available seats in classrooms.

Background

Our student assignment policy is based on an attendance area school model. Students are initially assigned to a school based on their home address.

During open enrollment, students may apply to attend an option school or another attendance school if seats are available. Maximum seat capacity is determined by the staffing allocations made in February not by the physical capacity of a school building.

This has been our process for the past 15 years. In order to support attendance area schools and our district’s model, unfortunately, not all students are able to get a different assignment beyond their attendance area school.

Each year, after open enrollment, district staff look at the effect of moving waitlists before making any adjustments. Typically, staff do not move waitlists that positively or negatively affect staffing. We recognize this can be confusing when there is physical capacity at a potential receiving school. Enrollment staff need to consider that a shift at one school has the potential to negatively influence the staffing and program viability at another school.

This Year’s Waitlists

In addition to our typical process, this year we are managing a $50 million budget shortfall for the 2017-18 school year. The budget shortfall, due to the Legislature’s inaction to fully fund education, means the district has less room for error and limited ability to mitigate schools who may lose staff because of waitlist adjustments.

In response to our financial situation, Budget, Human Resources, Enrollment Planning and the School Operation Departments have been conducting additional analysis around waitlist moves for 2017-18. If waitlists were moved at schools with physical capacity, eight schools would gain staff and 19 schools would lose staff. This uniform approach to waitlists would negatively affect students and cause upheaval in our schools.

Next Steps

Working to find solutions that better serve families and students is a priority of the staff and School Board. There will be a work session focused on waitlists in late June so we can continue to improve our systems and communication to families.

In addition, in response to the waitlist analysis, the following actions will take place:

Option Schools Waitlist moves at option schools will continue through August 31 based on current school staffing and available seats in classrooms. Admissions will continue to notify families when a seat becomes available.

Please make sure that your contact information is up to date. Families have 48 hours to accept or deny a seat once contacted by the Admissions Department.

Attendance Area Schools Waitlists at attendance area schools will not move until district staff review updated spring staffing allocations in mid-June. Waitlist moves at option schools may have a cascade effect and allow for additional movement of attendance area waitlists.

Once updated staffing has been determined in mid-June, families granted a seat at an attendance area school will be will be notified directly.

On August 31, we will dissolve the waitlists for all schools.

We appreciate our families’ patience and understanding as we review the needs of all schools given our current fiscal climate.

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