Parents play the magnet lottery

Most of the coveted spots at three newly minted magnet elementary schools will go to local students, according to lottery results released on Friday.

Parents who applied to send their students to Edison, Franklin and Keppel elementary schools must still decide whether to accept the spots, so it could be weeks before the results are final. But since 321 local applicants filed for an available 380 kindergarten seats — and Glendale residents get preference — most were expected to be accommodated.

The results, announced at a lottery ceremony Friday, brought a mix of relief and disappointment to parents eager to enroll their children in the specialty programs.

Glendale Unified last year was awarded a three-year, $7.5-million grant to enhance existing foreign language programs at Edison, Franklin and Keppel elementary schools, as well as to develop an additional education theme at each of the three sites.

With the grant money came federal enrollment procedures. In January, the district rolled out an open application process — accepting submissions from local and non-Glendale families — as required by law.

The new federal standards do permit the district to establish a tiered system that allows Glendale Unified to give priority to families with children already enrolled at a site, those who live within a half-mile of the campus and families that live within district boundaries.

The district received about 500 total applications from would-be new students, Assistant Supt. John Garcia said. Applicants could indicate their first, second, third and fourth choices.

Parents chatted Friday morning in the Glendale Unified school board room as they waited for the lottery results. Those from outside the district said they were undeterred by the longer odds and commutes.

“I have one son, and he is worth it,” said Sherman Oaks resident Karen Madigan, whose first choice was an English-only first-grade spot at Keppel Elementary.

Margaret Jerumanis applied to send her son to the Spanish programs at both Franklin and Edison elementary schools — among the district’s most popular. She described the application process as “fairly easy.” To her right sat Lisa Gilbert, who was also trying to secure a spot in one of the Spanish-language programs for her soon-to-be kindergarten-aged daughter.

“I think it is a wonderful opportunity here in California to learn a second language, and to learn it young,” Gilbert said. “At such a young age, they do absorb [language] much quicker, as the statistics show.”

Half an hour later, Jerumanis and Gilbert walked out with smiles on their faces — their children had both been awarded spots at Edison.

Glendale resident Mary Seward also left the lottery happy. Her son was slotted for the German dual-immersion program at Franklin Elementary.

“My husband is a German citizen, and we want to pass that culture on to our son,” Seward said.

Parents who did not attend the live lottery received notification by e-mail, officials said. Those that did not make the cut will be placed on a waiting list that will remain active until all spots are filled in the fall.

District officials said it will take a few weeks to double-check all the lists by hand and reassign spots that might open up. Out-of-district students will also still have to apply for and receive inter-district permits, Garcia said.

“It is still going to be contingent on being released from your own district and being accepted here in Glendale,” Garcia said. “It adds a little more challenging aspect for those who don’t live within the [Glendale Unified School District] boundaries, and we understand that.”

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