Parents interested in enrolling their child in one of the Lafayette Parish School System’s more than 20 “schools of choice” programs have until Jan. 31 to apply for a spot.

To date, more than 2,000 applications have been received, which is typical for a few weeks before the Jan. 31 deadline, said Barbara Pippin, schools of choice enrollment and recruitment specialist.

Pippin said she’ll send out an automated phone call to parents within the next few days reminding them of the looming deadline.

“When we send out the PACE call, people start responding to it, and by the end of January, we’ll have about 5,000 applications, which is the average,” Pippin said.

The program began as part of the school system’s desegregation plan and has grown to include more than 20 options for students in preschool through high school. The options enable students to explore their interest and talents in various fields from the arts and performing arts to health careers and STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.

Through the program, students also have the opportunity for immersive learning in Mandarin Chinese, French or Spanish. Through foreign immersion, all student classes, except English language arts, are taught in the foreign language.

Due to the popularity of schools of choice options, students are selected by a computerized lottery. Separate lotteries will be held at 5:30 p.m. on different dates based on students’ grade level: Feb. 23 for elementary school programs; Feb. 24 for middle school programs; and Feb. 26 for high school programs.

The district’s incoming freshmen and sophomores have a new option — a broadcast journalism academy at Northside High School. The new program was launched in the 2013-14 school year and is being offered to students outside of the Northside High zone.

Two new district high schools have been added to the schools of choice program in recent years — the David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy and the Early College Academy, which is housed at South Louisiana Community College.

The STEM-focused school is undergoing a major expansion to build new lab space, as well as an outdoor wetlands exhibit.

The Early College Academy allows students to earn a high school diploma in tandem with an associate degree. The school system partnered with the college to launch the academy in the 2008-09 school year, and the program is expected to expand to offer the opportunity to more students following the construction of a new building on the SLCC campus.

Parents can submit an application online via lafayette choice.com. Pippin said parents who don’t have access to the Internet may visit their local public library or stop by the School Board office.

“We’d be glad to help them here,” she said.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.