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By Allison Jarrell
The Capistrano Unified School District announced Monday that nearly 93 percent of all School of Choice applications submitted for the 2015-16 school year were accepted.
A total of 2,062 CUSD students were approved for the program, which allows students to apply for enrollment at a school other than their neighborhood school site. This year, approximately 5 percent of CUSD families chose to apply for enrollment outside of their designated school of attendance through the School of Choice program. Applications are approved on a space-available basis at each school site on an annual basis.
District staff said in a press release, and at the May 27 CUSD board meeting, that they intend to “personally connect with families” whose applications were not approved to offer the option to enroll at designated “open” schools that have not yet met capacity.
“CUSD is a district that deeply values opportunities for families to choose the best options available for educating their students,” Superintendent Kirsten Vital said in the release. “The district offers strong, innovative programs including Spanish Two-Way Immersion, Mandarin Immersion, International Baccalaureate, Visual and Performing Arts, and Career Technical Academics that are highly respected throughout the county and recognized across the state and nation as some of the top-rated programs for students. We are pleased that our families can take advantage of these choice offerings.”
The district’s School of Choice program has been a point of contention for some families, especially those living in the Talega and Ladera Ranch communities. Community Facilities District funds from those residents were used to help build San Juan Hills High School—the high school Capistrano Beach students are assigned to attend—and parents who spoke at previous meetings said their kids were not receiving their rightful spots at the school. Other School of Choice issues cited in the past include splitting up siblings, giving teachers’ kids priority to attend the same school and guaranteeing students in the immersion programs can complete their courses.
Under the new policy, which was approved Feb. 25 and only applies to the 2015-2016 school year, new families coming into the district after next year will not be guaranteed sibling priority, employees get priority for their kids at schools that aren’t full, and students living in CFDs have first priority overall.