By DAVID BOYLE
The Anchorage School District is holding a lottery for its charter and alternative schools, and now is a chance for parents to help their children get a better opportunity for an education from the public school system.
The district started accepting lottery applications on Feb. 1 for the next school year, which starts in mid-August. The application period ends March 17. A link to the ASD lottery questions and applications can be found here: https://www.asdk12.org/lottery.
There are several school types on this lottery, including charter schools and alternative schools. Two of the charter schools are correspondence/home schools, while the others focus on culture, a specific language, STEM (science, technology, math), or a structured basic curriculum.
Two of the most popular among the lottery schools are Aquarian Charter School and Northern Lights ABC alternative school. Students attending these schools have performed extremely well on the State’s PEAKS summative test.
A listing of the PEAKS scores (2020-21) for all the charter and alternative schools:
SCHOOL ENGLISH-LANGUAGE-ARTS/MATH / Percent advanced and proficient
Anchorage School District (All schools) – 43/37
Alaska Native Cultural Charter School – 23/16
STrEaM Charter School – 55/30
Aquarian Charter School – 73/59
Eagle Academy Charter School – 75/79
Family Partnership Charter School – 70/66
Frontier Charter School – 88/58
Highland Academy Charter School – 47/26
Northern Lights ABC School – 74/66
Polaris K12 – 54/39
Rilke Schule Charter School – 62/61
Steller Secondary School – 78/54
Winterberry Charter School – 64/17
Birchwood ABC School – 58/58
These figures indicate the percentage of students proficient in English/language arts and mathematics.
Proficiency rates are not the only factor to consider. One must first consider what learning style/curriculum fits a child best.
There is usually a long waiting list for students to get into most of these schools. A few years ago, there were more than 2,500 students on the waiting list for these schools. The schools are in demand because they cater to the customers’ needs-the parents.
Why is there so much demand for these schools with so little supply from the ASD? Because the district is a monopoly it does not have to respond to customers’ demands. If a shoe store only offered brown shoes, one style and one size, it would not be in business for long. Customers would go elsewhere to buy shoes.
If the district wants a new neighborhood school, it merely floats a bond, builds the school, and bills the taxpayers. On the other hand, if parents want a charter school, they must organize, develop a long business plan, and then get approval from the local school board. This usually takes more than a year.
The greatest hurdle for a new charter school is finding a facility to house the new school. In the Anchorage School District, even though there are some schools with less than 60% fill rate, schools will not be consolidated to free up a facility for a charter school.
Parents/guardians must also consider that they must provide transportation for their children, even though the district receives transportation funding for that child. Unfortunately, this can deter low-income and single parents from even applying for a charter/alternative school.
It’s common for parents to be overwhelmed by the procedures and hurdles one must go through to win this lottery, but winning a spot could be the best thing that happens to your child.
The district is holding an event to learn about its charter and alternative schools on Saturday, Feb. 19 from noon to 4pm at the ASD headquarters, 5530 East Northern Lights Blvd. Find a charter/alternative school that fits your child. Then apply for the lottery.
I hope no one enrolls.
Absolute proof that at least at the elementary school level ANC parents DO NOT think ASD does an adequate job. The very fact that these or other alternatives are available to EVERYBODY is clear evidence. What about equity (s)?
You shouldn’t have to win the lottery to get a better education. Parents need more choices.
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