At the April 20 Finance Committee meeting, Peter Godard, District 65’s chief officer of research, accountability and data, laid out a detailed analysis of Lincoln Elementary School’s increasing enrollment, the process followed to gather input on ways to address the increased enrollment, actions taken to date, and a set of recommendations for the coming school year.
Some of the actions already taken include: staff have encouraged incoming kindergarten families to apply for magnet schools or permissive transfers; all current Lincoln students have been required to re-register for next year, demonstrating residency; new English-language learners who do not reside in Lincoln’s attendance area have been placed at other schools; and a revised lunch schedule was implemented to reduce the number of students in peak lunch periods.
Mr. Godard said that a total of 108 students in Lincoln’s attendance area have enrolled to attend kindergarten next year, 40 of whom have applied to attend one of the District’s magnet schools or for a permissive transfer to another school. Mr. Godard said the plan was to grant all these applications, but at this point, it is unclear how many will accept a magnet school slot or a permissive transfer. Lincoln can accommodate up to 92 kindergarten students under the District’s class-size guidelines, he said.
As a precautionary measure, Mr. Godard recommended that the School Board approve the following steps for the 2015-16 school year to control enrollment at Lincoln:
• Limit enrollment at each grade level based on existing District class size guidelines and available classroom space.
• Fill available seats at all grade levels on a first-come, first-served basis.
• As an exception to this first-come, first-served approach, run a lottery for available kindergarten seats if the first round of the magnet and permissive transfer process does not result in a kindergarten enrollment smaller than 92. Grant siblings of students currently enrolled in grades K-4 preference in this lottery.
• Following the lottery, if one is necessary, fill remaining kindergarten seats on a first-come, first-served basis.
Mr. Godard said that all students currently attending the school would be assured a spot at Lincoln next year. He said once the actual enrollment is determined in October, the District will look at permanent solutions to address enrollment.
School Board members raised concerns about the class size guidelines, which they plan to discuss at a later date. The Finance Committee voted to send the recommendations to the full Board for a vote on April 27.