Ask the Super: ACPS Superintendent Sherman Answers Your Questions
This week, the superintendent answers a question about the school system's enrollment projections.
The following question was submitted to Patch by a parent of children attending Alexandria City Public Schools.
Question: In the spring, ACPS sent a letter to certain neighborhoods stating that there could be a lottery for kindergarten students at several schools (e.g., Maury) if neighborhood enrollment exceeded spots available. Now that registration is underway, could you provide an update on enrollment numbers for the various elementary schools, whether a lottery will be necessary (and, if so, at which schools), and what kindergarten class sizes will be at each elementary school? If there is going to be a lottery, what schools have capacity to take the overflow? What schools can accept transfer students as well?
Sherman: June 1 is the date we determine whether a lottery is needed for our Modified Calendar Schools, Tucker and Mount Vernon. Based on enrollments to that date, we will not need a lottery for those schools. Any students registered for those schools by June 1 will be able to attend. As registrations continue, and if we reach maximum class sizes, we will create a waiting list and use the Modified Open Enrollment policy to place students.
June 15 is the date we use for our traditional calendar schools... to determine whether we will have to use a lottery. In our review of registrations this week, we are confident that all kindergarten families registered before June 15 will be able to attend their home school. The only caveat to this is if a surprise happens next week and we have hundreds of new students register. We don't see that happening. So, no lottery for traditional calendar schools.
As we see enrollments surge and shift, I add teachers where we have space. We have already added a kindergarten section at George Mason and one at Tucker. We are watching closely the kindergarten enrollments at Maury and Lyles-Crouch and may need to add sections.
Our history of division-wide projections is very good... usually within 1 percent to 3 percent accurate. Variations may occur at some schools, but as a division we are confident that our projections will hold up, which means that overall enrollments will be up over 3 percent.
Class sizes remain the lowest in Northern Virginia: 20 at kindergarten, 22 for first and second grades, and 24 for third for fourth grades. The board has granted my flexibility to increase kindergarten by one or two students as needed. The only other exception to class size caps is the sibling rule, which states that if an older sibling is already in the school, the entering kindergarten student will be admitted even if class size caps are exceeded.
Few schools have room for transfers. We will be able to share that information shortly - after the June 15 enrollment counts.