Spanish, Japanese and alternative programs; hundreds wait for results on the school lottery

Published: Mar. 23, 2017 at 2:39 PM AKDT
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Thursday, at 5 p.m., is the deadline to apply for the Anchorage School District lottery. The lottery gives options to parents who want their children to attend a neighborhood school outside their zone, charter school or an alternative program.

By Thursday morning, ASD reported that there were 2,266 applications; however, that is the total number of schools applied for, not the individual students.

Students receive preference in the lottery for schools where they have a sibling already enrolled.

Popular programs, like Aquarian Charter school and the Spanish program at Government Hill Elementary School, often don't have enough spots for the applicants. There are charter schools, alternative programs, as well as immersion schools that focus on Russian, Japanese, German and Spanish.

ASD recently sent out a questionnaire to parents to see if there is interest in additional immersion programs, such as Korean and French.

Even newer programs, like the Chinese immersion at Scenic Park Elementary School, have a wait list.

"Already on our lottery list, we have over 120 kids," said Scenic Park principal Jennifer Schmitz. "But that includes our immersion lottery and our neighborhood lottery."

When asked how many spots there are for immersion, Schmitz said, "Fifty spots for kindergarten."

Katherine Kwon has been sending her son, Jeremy, to the Spanish preschool program, Somos Amigos, for the past three years. This year, she entered him into the lottery for Spanish at Government Hill or Japanese at Sand Lake elementary. She says if he doesn't get into either school, she's still happy with their neighborhood school at Inlet View.

"I think its really fantastic," Kwon said, regarding her choices. "We actually moved here three years ago from California, and I think that those are not really options in the public school system there."

On Friday, a computer will randomly decide which student goes where. Then the district will ensure everything is accurate, before sending out results to parents. After that, they have 48 hours to make a decision on the programs they were selected for.

"It is getting to be crunch time," Kwon said. "We're a little bit nervous, just because there's no guarantee of which school we're getting into."