More than a dozen Lafayette Parish School System parents anxiously awaited — and received — news Monday night on whether their preschooler or kindergartner got a seat in the school of their choice.
The school system received more than 4,000 applications for the popular schools-of-choice program, which provides specialized curricula to students from preschool through high school. Due to the limited availability in the programs, which range from arts and foreign language immersion to technology and health sciences, a computerized lottery is held to select students. On Monday, students for elementary programs — preschool and kindergarten — were selected.
Because there was a sparse crowd for the elementary lottery, schools-of-choice enrollment and recruitment specialist Barbara Pippin broke the news to parents one-by-one. Some parents expressed giddiness, while those who were told they were on a waiting list had more questions about the likelihood their child would actually get a seat.
“She’s No. 10 on the wait list. It’s a class of 15 or something, so it’s not going to happen,” said Emma Guillory, who had applied for her daughter Tula to start French immersion preschool at Prairie Elementary. Guillory was good-natured about the turn of events and said she plans to apply again for Tula to get a spot in French immersion for kindergarten, where there will be more classes open.
Schools-of-choice options begin as early as preschool with seats open in both Spanish and French immersion, as well as at J. Wallace James Elementary, arts and technology academy.
Parent Brea Brinkman moved to Lafayette last fall and applied for her son Kale to start kindergarten at J. Wallace James.
“We moved here in November from Sulphur, and I heard through word-of-mouth about the schools-of-choice program,” she said.
Kale got in.
Damaud McZeal, 4, is on a waiting list to start preschool at J. Wallace James, said his mom, Byreion Green.
“It’s a really good school,” Green said. “I have family members who have gone there and he has a cousin who is there now. He’ll be excited to get on the school bus with his cousin. If he doesn’t get in, he’ll go to his zoned school.”
Pippin said parents can check online Tuesday to see where their spot is on the waiting list. Parents will soon receive notification letters and must reply whether or not they’ve accepted a spot in the program, she said.
Other elementary school level options include environmental sciences at L. Leo Judice Elementary and Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese immersion.
The French immersion program is among the most popular in the school district with classes available at Evangeline Elementary, Prairie Elementary, Alice Boucher Elementary and Myrtle Place Elementary. Because students spend their school day learning in the foreign language for all classes except English language arts, entry into the foreign immersion program is for preschool or kindergarten students.
This school year, there are 735 students in preschool through eighth grade in French immersion, 188 students in Spanish immersion and 32 in Chinese. French and Spanish immersion programs continue through eighth grade. About 60 high school French immersion students take advanced language courses in world history, world geography and chemistry at Lafayette High. The Chinese program began in 2009 and those initial students are now in the fifth grade.
School closures due to the weather on Tuesday pushed back the schedule for lottery announcements for middle school and high school programs.
The lottery for middle school programs is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and at the same time on Thursday for high school programs.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.