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Single-applicant pool appears headed for Clark Magnet lottery

Single-applicant pool appears headed for Clark Magnet lottery
Glendale Unified district staff recommended a revamp of the Clark Magnet High School lottery system, which grants each of the district’s four middle schools – Roosevelt, Rosemont, Toll and Wilson – 25% of all available freshman spots. Staff prefers one pool for all. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

One giant pool is more efficient than four smaller ones.

That’s one suggestion Glendale Unified staff members are giving the school board as a way to make the Clark Magnet High School lottery system more transparent.

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During a board meeting late last month, district staff recommended a revamp of the lottery, which grants admission to the magnet school that emphasizes science and technology.

Currently, each of the district’s four middle schools – Roosevelt, Rosemont, Toll and Wilson – receive 25% of all available freshman spots at Clark Magnet.

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Rather than four separate groups, district staff members think that one pool for all students within the district’s boundaries – including students attending private schools and those who are home-schooled – would be more fair.

A discussion is expected at the next board meeting on Dec. 11, with potential for a vote by school officials.

“We recommend that we do a one-lottery system for the [2019-20] school year,” said Hagop Eulmessekian, the district’s director of student support. “Every student will have an equal opportunity to get in.”

This school year, 325 eligible ninth-graders were accepted and only 14 — all of them on a waiting list at Wilson — were denied.

Wilson did accept 91 applicants, followed by 81 for Toll. Meanwhile, Roosevelt accepted 76 students and Rosemont had 47.

Also, 30 private or non-current district students were enrolled from local middle schools. Those non-district students were placed into whichever lottery corresponded with their area.

The single-pool lottery system had previously been used from the 2014-15 school year until 2017-18 when the current four-group model was adopted.

Since the 2012-13 school year, the district has swapped lottery systems in an attempt to find the fairest way to determine school acceptance.

One school that’s been impacted more than others, regardless of which system is used, has been Wilson, which has seen 85 students on waiting lists rejected over the previous seven application periods.

Eulmessekian said that more Wilson students have been accepted and rejected because the school annually has a higher number of applicants.

Toll comes in next in terms of rejections, with 30 turned away.

In comparison, private and home-schooled students not enrolled in a district school at application time have only been rejected 14 times over seven years.

“The debate has always been, ‘do the private-school students have the same opportunity as the resident students who have been at our middle schools?’” said Kelly King, the district’s assistant superintendent.

“Or do we give them a priority, like their own separate pool, because we’re interested in regaining enrollment?” King added.

Staff members also recommended linked applications for students with siblings, so either the entire group is accepted or rejected.

On the flip side, district staff members recommended not giving priority to students with siblings already at Clark.

“If that’s what happens, we’re going to end up every year increasing the number of [eligible siblings], and we’re looking at the possibility of up to 25% of the 325 spots being taken by siblings, reducing the chances for [other] students,” Eulmessekian said.

Also, district staff members are advocating that private and home-schooled students within the district have equal access to the lottery process as currently enrolled district students.

To be eligible to apply to Clark Magnet, an incoming freshman needs to have a 2.0 grade-point average in core subjects and must be ready for Integrated Math I or higher.

Other requirements include students having no more than five school-rule infractions or two unsatisfactory citizenship marks in the three semesters prior to the application process.

Students also cannot have missed more than 14 full days and must reside within the district’s boundaries.

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