School of choice applications drop by 200

About 200 fewer parents applied for a chance to send their children to a District 51 school outside their neighborhood school boundaries this year, likely because of new application guidelines.

Dropping the requirement for every school of choice student to apply every year to stay at a choice school likely helped the application count dip from 1,664 for 2013-14 to 1,461 applications for 2014-15, according to District 51 Chief Academic Officer Bill Larsen.

Larsen said he expects the number to keep falling in coming years as more parents learn about the new guidelines; some parents who did not understand the new rules needlessly applied to keep their students in choice schools this year.

The school of choice application process also went digital for the first time this year, going from a pen-and-paper process to an online application system. Parents applied online at home or work or on school computers between March 3 and March 21.

This year, 978 students were accepted to a school of their choice and committed to attend that school in 2014-15. Another 483 students’ applications were rejected. Some students applied to more than one school.

Eight schools — Bookcliff Middle, Fruita 8/9, Fruita Middle, Grand Junction High, Loma Elementary, Redlands Middle, Shelledy Elementary and Tope Elementary — accepted all of their applicants while Grand Mesa Middle School and Rim Rock Elementary denied acceptance to all of their applicants this year (13 for Rim Rock and 48 for Grand Mesa). Larsen said some schools rejected more students this year than last year because they have reached capacity or are getting close to it because of past choice students staying on or more students moving into a school’s boundaries.

Scenic Elementary, one of those schools that got closer to capacity this year, had the highest number of applicants among District 51 elementary schools for both 2013-14 and 2014-15, accepting 57 out of 110 applicants for the coming school year.

Tope Elementary had the highest acceptance tally among district elementary schools, taking all 82 of its applicants for 2014-15.

Pear Park had the highest denial rate among local elementary schools, accepting just 25 out of 100 applicants.

West Middle School had both the most applicants and accepted applicants for 2014-15 among district middle schools, admitting 41 out of 49 choice applicants.

West beat out Redlands Middle School this year for the top spot among middle schools. Redlands accepted all 35 of its applicants this year. Grand Mesa Middle School had the highest denial count both years.

Grand Junction High School had the most applicants and the most accepted applicants for 2013-14 and 2014-15 among District 51 high schools, taking all 128 of its applicants for 2014-15. Palisade High School had the highest denial count among high schools, accepting just 18 out of 90 applicants for 2014-15.


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