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ASD Parents Await School Lottery Results

Published On: Mar 28 2014 06:16:44 PM AKDT   Updated On: Mar 28 2014 06:36:55 PM AKDT

Parents hoping to get their children in special programs in the Anchorage School District are waiting for results of a school lottery. 


It's not exactly how some would picture the Anchorage School District's school lottery system working out: no balls, no fanfare, just Glen Nielsen clicking his mouse.

"It's taking all the existing folks from the wait list from the previous year and those folks that have applied this year," said Nielsen, the district's executive director of elementary education. "I would say it's not very dramatic at all."

But when it comes to pushing for the best education possible, the drama all depends on who you talk to.

Some parents whose kids go to the preschool Spanish immersion program Somos Amigos, they want them to continue their Spanish at Government Hill Elementary's Spanish Two-Way Immersion Program. One of ASD's most popular school lottery options, it's only taking 27 kindergarten students out of the 100 who have applied -- a high-stakes choice that has parents nervous about their children getting in.

"I was like, 'No -- you got to do your paperwork,'" said parent April Mobley. 

"I don't want my son to have an opportunity missed like that -- it's just a benefit to know more things," said parent Richard Lanctot.

"For us, it's really the specific Spanish language that we want to continue with our daughter," said Lindsay Hobson.

Odds are not all of these children will get into Government Hill. Based on preferences for students who live in the neighborhood and have siblings already in the school, only six of the 27 children selected in the lottery will come from elsewhere.

"Maybe more slots, or maybe more of a certain type of school is needed because I'm sure that not all of us here will be able to get into Government Hill and that will be unfortunate," said Joanna Marshall.

ASD superintendent Ed Graff says he understands parents' concerns -- but with 96 schools and over 130 programs in the district, he's encouraging parents to check out those in their own backyard.  

"It just starts with just getting into the school, understanding the philosophy, the program that's available, talking to the principal, talking with the teachers, seeing firsthand what happens, and trying to match that up with your child's needs," Graff said.

Friday's lottery, which included 2,400 individual students in 139 programs, took 21 minutes to complete.

Officials say out of that group, there are many who apply for multiple school programs.

Parents won't find out if their children have been accepted into a program until late next week pending verification, because ASD still has to figure out how many slots are available. Anybody who did not get in will be added to a wait list.

ASD officials say students who don't get in the first year typically get in during the second or third years.