Today I heard from a friend whose child received an acceptance to Gateway MS and is trying to decide between that and another offer. Among the positives for Gateway, the mom told me, is that “you’re in through high school.”
Actually, you’re not. I’ve heard this misconception from a number of people who attended information sessions at Gateway MS, and I want to make very clear that Gateway Charter MS and the highly-requested Gateway Charter HS are separate schools. Attending Gateway MS will not give students preferential admission to Gateway HS. I was concerned enough this morning to call Sharon Olken, the head of Gateway HS and the person managing the MS startup, to ask her what parents were being told at information sessions for the middle school.
According to Ms. Olken, Gateway has told families that they hope many MS families will ultimately apply to Gateway HS, and that the school would welcome the opportunity to work with students from 6th to 12th grades. However, she acknowledged that the school is prevented under charter school laws from giving anyone other than siblings preferential admissions to the school.
This is an important thing for families to keep in mind — the Gateway HS lottery is competitive, and I know some families would love a competitive edge if it were available. I was quite clear when I voted for the Gateway MS charter (it squeaked through on a 4-3 vote) that it was a standalone middle school, and I feel strongly that “locking in” middle school families through HS is not fair to all the other families who may, in 7th or 8th grades, realize that Gateway is a good option for their child.