Web app starts Monday for selection of schools
Computer labs will be available at four locations and all District 51 school offices as the School of Choice application window for 2014-15 opens at 10 a.m. Monday.
Parents who do not have access to a home or work computer and Internet service will be able to go to their child’s school office to fill out the online School of Choice application at d51schools.org during school hours, or access computer labs at Palisade High School or Fruita 8/9 School between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. or use computers at Mesa County Public Library’s Central Branch or Basil T. Knight Center between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Spanish translators will be available at Basil T. Knight.
After Monday, parents can use computers in the school offices and at the Emerson Administration Building.
“We realize not all parents have computers or Internet. We’re really trying to level the playing field this way,” said Bill Larsen, District 51 chief academic officer.
This is the district’s first year with an all-online application process for School of Choice, the process that allows parents to apply to enroll their child in a district school that is outside their neighborhood attendance boundaries. Larsen said the change was made to improve accuracy and transparency in the process. Paper applications are easier to misplace or send to the wrong school, he said, and the district had problems in past years with writing on the carbonless copy applications not making it through four layers of sheets. Plus, he said having an online system prevents suspicion about time-stamping and early access to applications — a key factor when School of Choice slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Now it will be done electronically so no one can say this person got a form ahead of time or turned it in under the counter,” Larsen said.
The School of Choice application window will close at 4 p.m. March 21. Principals will fill available spots in their schools based on enrollment projections and notify parents whether their applications were accepted or rejected by April 11. Parents who get into a school will have to sign and return a letter of commitment to enroll at that school by April 25. Parents who get a rejection letter can apply for a school transfer in case another spot opens at their desired school.
Starting this year, parents with a child in a choice school will not have to reapply on an annual basis unless the child is changing schools. School of Choice kids going from elementary to middle school or middle to high school must reapply, even if the choice school they attend now naturally feeds into the school they want to attend.
Last year, 1,686 parents applied for School of Choice, up from 1,665 for 2012-13 and 1,534 applicants for 2011-12. Larsen said he expects the district’s website to be busy Monday morning.
“Our technology department has been working on this for a year. They’ve done so many dry runs,” he said, adding schools will have paper applications as a backup just in case