Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lessons from compact cities on coordinating student enrollment

In case you missed CRPE’s March 5th webinar, “How District and Charter Schools Coordinate Enrollment: Practical Experiences from New Orleans and Denver,” click here to watch the webinar or view the presentations .

Getting the right conditions and partnerships ready to build unified enrollment system that reaches across district and charter schools is crucial to its success. Neil Dorosin, founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice and consultant to both Denver and New Orleans lays out several key concerns all districts hoping to build a unified enrollment system should attend.

• Assess staff and technology capacity needed to communicate well with families. Both DPS and the RSD were well aware of the weaknesses in their previous enrollment systems and devoted resources to build the infrastructure needed for this work.
• Establish the policies that govern student assignment preferences (e.g. siblings, geographic zones) before determining the assignment mechanism. Denver district leaders and school leaders conducted extended negotiations with charter leaders to determine what geographic and sibling preferences would be acceptable.
• Pay attention to the needs of students who use the central enrollment system in non-traditional ways, including late arrivals to the city or transfer students and students with special needs that must have services follow them to their assigned school. DPS has worked with high demand schools to save spots for late entrants. The RSD is in the process of creating a standalone non-profit that coordinates direct services for students with special needs. This will allow schools to develop the expertise to serve the diverse needs of students with severe disabilities.