Parents eagerly awaiting results from Lusher Charter School’s highly-anticipated kindergarten admissions lottery don’t yet have a date to put on their calendars.
This year, admission offers were supposed to be provided no later than April 6, according to the school’s policies. But an unprecedented statewide school closure and “stay-at-home order” to slow the spread of COVID-19 have thrown a wrench into that timeline.
“Parents are getting antsy. They need to know what’s going to happen,” one parent who’s awaiting results told The Lens. The parent asked that their name be withheld for fear speaking publicly could interfere with their child’s application.
The A-rated Uptown charter school annually attracts more applicants than it has available seats, which triggers an admissions lottery. This year, for kindergarten alone, there are approximately 395 applicants for 100 spots, school spokeswoman Heather Harper told The Lens.
The K-12 school’s lower and upper school seat lotteries were completed in mid-March, but the kindergarten admissions lottery is a separate process. Lusher is one of a few selective-admission schools in New Orleans that require a much more involved application process than the city’s open enrollment schools.
“There’s nothing on the website,” the parent said Wednesday. “They have updates for everything else, except the kindergarten lottery.”
Harper said the school is working on it. “We are currently on Spring Break and hope to set a date by the end of next week,” Harper wrote in an email.
She also said some children are waiting to retake the admissions test. Families can appeal test results and, if granted, take the admission exam again.
To enter Lusher, kindergarten applicants must take an exam. Parents must complete an art profile, designed to familiarize with the arts-integrated curriculum, and attend an open house. The exam and other requirements are each worth a set amount of points and combine to give each student an overall score that places them into a tiered lottery system.
“The exams will be administered once the shelter in place order is lifted or we can figure out a safe way to retest those students,” Harper wrote in an email. “If those children qualify on retake, there will be a second lottery to determine where those applicants place in the lottery, which is not an uncommon occurrence.”
Initially, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ March 13 order shuttering schools was set to last one month. It has now been extended through the end of April.
Lusher operates outside the city’s centralized enrollment system, called OneApp, which means future Lusher students could be holding seats at other city schools right now, as they await Lusher’s admissions results.
“If Lusher doesn’t get back to me, then I have to take this option,” the parent said of her OneApp assignment. “I don’t have the backup of the private school because I’ve told them no.”
Benjamin Franklin High School, another selective-admission school, had its fourth admissions testing date scheduled for mid-April. Although it was postponed, school officials do not think it’s a problem. School officials said they conducted more than 800 admissions tests on three prior dates and that the April exam is usually for students who’ve moved to the area or who are retesting.
“We are not aware of any student who has wanted to take the admissions test and who has not been able to do so,” Admissions Director Lynn Jenkins wrote in an email. “Although our April test was postponed, we are having frequent discussions about alternate ways to deliver this test and working hard to find solutions.”
“Every day we are brainstorming to try to find solutions, including exploring online delivery of the admissions test, as well as seeing what the status of building closures will be in the last half of May,” Jenkins wrote.
Incoming students will not have to submit an end-of-year report card and the traditional ‘welcome night’ program is now a presentation that is emailed to families.
“The ultimate decision will be made by the Orleans Parish School Board and the governor based on the COVID-19 trajectory and social distancing guidelines to keep everyone safe.”
Clarification: This story was updated to clarify parents complete an art profile in the application process.