In the charter school world in Minnesota, there comes a day, during the second semester usually, that has the staff, students, parents, and potential families on edge with excitement, apprehension and nervousness. That day is Lottery Day.
Lottery Day is the day, specified in school policy, that school officials draw out of a hat to determine which students will be offered a spot in the fall. This can be a confusing day for some families, because this entry system into a charter school is slightly different from what most of us are used to in traditional districts. So, let me backup, and explain how we get to Lottery Day.
Each year, LMSS students enroll and attend school beginning in September. If a child is enrolled in Kindergarten or up, they are forever enrolled in LMSS until they graduate, or they are unenrolled by parent. Any new students (those entering kindergarten, or any grade if the child is new to LMSS) must first apply for entrance. The application period for any school year begins the January prior to the upcoming school year. So, here we are in January 2020, and our enrollment is officially open for the 2020-2021 school year. LMSS has intentionally set enrollment caps at 10 students per grade. So, let’s say that we currently have 9 students in our 6th grade class. That would mean that we have one open seat that can be filled through enrollment applications. During the month of January, we accept applications for all grades. And for this example, let’s say we have received two applications for 6th graders. Since we now have more applications than open seats, we must hold a lottery. It is always held on the first school day following February 1st. So, on February 3rd, we will draw a name out of a hat to determine who is offered the open 6th grade seat. The other students are placed on a waiting list in the order in which they were selected in the lottery. As it was stated before, this day is filled with excitement, apprehension and nervousness.
As we come up to Lottery Day 2020, potential families are hopeful that their children will be part of the lucky few that will be allowed to attend LMSS. Current families reminisce about ‘their lottery year’ when they weren’t sure if they would get to become part of the LMSS family. Staff are excited to find out who will be part of the following year’s class. It is always difficult to tell, and hear, the difficult news that a student didn’t get offered a spot. When we provide tours to potential families, there always seems to be a special reason why their son or daughter needs to attend. It never fails; a bond is made. Even though Mrs. Wehman or Miss Tammy may have only spent a few hours with a potential family, it is with great disappointment that they have to tell a family that there just isn’t enough room and that their child will be placed onto the waiting list.
We wish we had enough room to accept every single student who wants to be a part of our family at LMSS, but part of what makes our school so special is our small numbers. Maintaining smaller class sizes helps us to form strong, long-standing relationships. Having a low adult-student ratio makes sure that we can really focus on helping each student grow in their own way.
So, for those that did not get accepted: keep trying, you never know when you could be accepted. For those that get accepted: Congratulations, and welcome to the family!