I have to apologize for leaving out a rather important detail of the staff’s proposal last night (that’s what I get for trying to get a recap posted instead of sleeping!). When I read over last night’s post, I realized that I mischaracterized Option B.
It’s true that Option B is very similar to Option A in terms of the order of preferences: sibling preference is first, then PreK applicants, then local preference, then CTIP (go back to last night’s post for a detailed explanation of this acronym). However, the key to understanding Option B is that the choice round is optional. Before the choice process even begins, families would have received an initial offer from the district for their attendance area school. If they choose to accept that offer and enroll at the attendance area school, they’re done — no lottery, no further action required. The benefits to this approach are obvious: predictability and the idea of “opting in” to the lottery instead of being forced to participate.
The principal challenges with this approach are twofold: first, parents of incoming kindergarteners would have to file some kind of “intent to enroll” application with the district in order to receive an initial offer to their attendance area school — otherwise, how would we know who they are? Second, as the PAC and PPS report pointed out, wouldn’t popular schools completely fill up with children from their attendance area, locking out others who would like to choose those schools in the lottery round? In the presentation last night, our staff liaison (Orla O’Keeffe) said that the district could choose to set aside some seats at popular schools for the lottery round, but that would affect the predictability of the outcome for families.
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