Photo courtesy of Richmond Public Schools
The 2015-16 school year hasn’t even started and Richmond Public School administrators are already worried about 2016-17.
The school division announced Wednesday that open enrollment, which allows parents to apply for their child to attend a school anywhere in the district, would be about four months earlier than it was last year and the year before. This year's open enrollment application window is Sept. 28 to Oct. 9. Administrators hope the shift will mean students leave school this next June with 2016-17 class schedules in hand, says Michelle Boyd, RPS’ executive director of exceptional education and student services.
“With our current process, open enrollment went late into the spring," Boyd says. "That adversely impacted principals’ ability to know how many sections of a course they would need or build a master schedule."
Additionally, families who are torn between staying in the system or sending their child to private school will know sooner whether they have a slot in their school of choice, Boyd says.
“We want to be able to provide them feedback earlier so that parents don’t feel like they’re forced to pursue those private options … ” Boyd says.
As always, priority is given to students living within the zone. Every school has a certain number of out-of-zone slots available. If demand exceeds supply, a lottery is held to determine which students can enroll.
Last year, the open enrollment window was held Jan. 20 and Feb. 13. More than 1,800 RPS students, or about 8 percent of the district’s total enrollment, applied to attend out-of-zone.
The earlier deadline means families will have only a month to decide whether they’d like to apply for a slot elsewhere. However, families that go through the process and win an out-of-zone slot, can change their minds and still register at their in-zone school, Boyd says.
Two public meetings are scheduled to discuss the changes:
Wednesday, Sept. 16
6 - 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 17
Thomas Jefferson High
6 - 7 p.m.