Limited spots are still available in foreign language immersion and other programs in Lafayette Parish School System’s schools of choice program.

Due to student demand and the limited availability of spots available in the program, vacant spots are filled using a computerized lottery. About 6,000 of the school system’s nearly 30,000 students are enrolled in schools of choice, and this year, more than 4,000 students applied for a shot in the lottery held last month.

The application period was reopened Sunday to fill the spots that remain.

Since Sunday, at least 20 students have been placed in a program, and more are awaiting to fulfill the requirements of their program — whether it’s an audition or a mandatory meeting at the school, said Barbara Pippin, schools of choice recruiting and enrollment specialist.

Applications are now reopened for all academies except J. Wallace James Elementary, L. Leo Judice Elementary and the Academy of Health Careers at Lafayette High.

Pippin added that while spots are open at all other academies, spots remain limited and may not be available at all grade levels.

“Available spots change daily because right now we’re filling them on a first-come, first-served basis,” she said.

Spots are also available in all three foreign language immersion options: French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. French immersion is among the school district’s most popular options with 735 students enrolled in the classes in preschool through eighth grade. Spots open in the immersion courses only at the preschool or kindergarten levels because of the language proficiency required at the higher grades, when all subjects except English are taught in the foreign language.

Chinese immersion is the school system’s newest foreign language option, having started in 2009. Currently, 32 students are enrolled in the program in kindergarten through fifth grade. Because of the low enrollment in the upper grade levels, some classes have been consolidated and next year the program may be downsized at a potential cost savings of $195,000.

Next school year, Chinese language enrichment courses may be offered for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, which combined total 13 students, in lieu of a full-day of immersion for those older students, Nicole Boudreaux, the school system’s world language specialist, said during the board’s March 11 finance committee meeting. Focusing on the lower grades will enable the program to rebuild at its new location at Plantation Elementary, where it moved this school year after it having been housed at Alice Boucher Elementary, she said.

“Last year, within a month and half of doing the move, we had 18 applications for kindergarten,” Boudreaux said. “We’re expecting to have a solid kindergarten, first grade, and slightly smaller second grade.”

Other schools of choice options at elementary, middle and high school levels focus on the performing and visual arts, technology, engineering and other sciences. High school students also have an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in tandem with their high school diploma through the Early College Academy, offered in partnership with South Louisiana Community College on the college campus. The high school was ranked among the country’s top 500 high schools by Newsweek magazine last year


Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.