clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Spring break is admissions season at some city charter schools

At some city charter schools, Monday of spring break was earmarked for filling out next year’s class.

The Success Charter Network held its annual enrollment lottery Monday morning, selecting students for 12 schools that are set to be open this fall. The schools have about 1,200 open seats, and 12,374 families applied for them, some for more than one school, according to figures provided by the network.

About 30 percent of applicants are considered English language learners, according to the network, meaning that at least 20 percent of new students at most of the network’s schools this fall will be learning English as a second language.

The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School also held its admissions lottery, its first ever, on Monday, using a tiered system of preferences to the neediest of 500 applicants for 60 spots in the inaugural classes. The school aims to serve high-needs students and had recruited heavily among families in the foster care system and non-English-speaking communities.

The state’s 2010 charter schools law set April 1 as the earliest allowable lottery date, and most city charter school chains held their lotteries last week before the break began. The nine schools in the KIPP network held lotteries last Wednesday. The Achievement First network, which has 11 schools in New York City, selected its students during a public lottery on Thursday, just before dismissing for spring break.

The Children’s Aid school’s lottery attracted few parents because school leaders had not encouraged them to attend, according to SchoolBook. The Success Charter Network didn’t invite parents at all, instead holding a low-key lottery behind closed doors and notifying families who are admitted by mail, as it has since 2010. The process replaced a boisterous public lottery event that network officials said they scrapped because it had grown unwieldy as the network expanded to include additional schools.

Success’s famously vigorous recruitment efforts yielded an average of about 1,000 applications per school for at least the third straight year. In 2010, the network received about 7,000 applications for seven schools and last year received about 8,700 applicants for nine schools.

For the first time this year, at least 20 percent — and probably more — of new students at most of the Success Charter Network’s schools will not be native English speakers. That’s because the network sought and won state approval earlier this month to give admissions preference to children classified as English language learners. The network’s request came amid criticism that it was doing too little to recruit Spanish-speaking students in Williamsburg, one of three neighborhoods where it is opening new schools this fall.

Overall, about 30 percent of applicants to Success Academy schools are considered ELLs. At the Williamsburg school, about 115 of the 313 District 14 students who applied are ELLs, so the network selected randomly from them for the first 20 seats and then entered the remaining ELLs into an district-students-only lottery with odds of about one in four.

The network said demand was highest in the Bronx and Harlem. The network opened its first school in Harlem in 2006 and now says it enrolls or has gotten applications from one in five elementary school-aged children there. in About 24 times as many families applied to the network’s two Bronx schools as there were open seats, according to the figures the network released today.

“We are simply floored by the overwhelming demand we received this year and only wish we could keep up with it,” said the network’s CEO, Eva Moskowitz, in a statement. “Those who say communities don’t want or need more options clearly aren’t listening to their constituents, who are lining up by the tens of thousands for seats in high quality schools.”

Citing demand and the schools’ performance, Mayor Bloomberg announced in his State of the City speech in January that he would fast-track the network to open more schools in the next two years.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.