More students living within the Orcutt Union School District boundaries applied to Orcutt Academy High School this year, the first time they will receive enrollment preference over non-residents in the charter lottery.
Enrollment figures were determined following last week’s computerized Orcutt Academy Program lottery, which picked students admitted to the popular charter’s K-8 Casmalia campus and Orcutt Academy High that opened with the charter creation in 2008.
The Orcutt board of trustees voted in October to grant in-district preference at the high school, which caps enrollment at 600 students and 150 students in each grade.
The number of in-district residents who applied to the high school increased by 19 and the non-resident totals fell by the same figure, said Joe Dana, director of charter programs.
“The board’s decision anecdotally increased the number of in-district applicants,” Dana told Noozhawk this week.
Of 267 applicants to the high school, 207 were in-district students, he said.
While applications at the secondary level fell from last year’s 286 total, the K-8 campus saw its highest-ever number of applicants.
Dana said 182 students applied for 12 opens spots, which was an increase of 15.
The Casmalia campus serves up to 81 students, with nine students in each grade.
“We did a little less advertising this year,” he said. “We feel like we have a pretty good brand.”
High school non-residents may be at a disadvantage, but they can still keep their names on a waitlist and be admitted that way.
Dana said the district works through its waitlist up until the first day of school and well after, as many students change their minds for any number of reasons.
“It’s in our heart to serve everybody who wants to come to the academy,” he said. “I say that to all the people at the lottery.”
Twenty-four in-district students stand in front of 34 non-residents on the waitlist for ninth grade. For tenth grade, nine non-residents are further down a list behind 27 in-district students.
Applicants for ninth grade came from 22 different junior high schools in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Guadalupe and beyond, Dana said.
Because the district’s policy allows admittance to the children of staff or those with siblings already in the charter, 13 non-residents were among the 160 total admitted during last Wednesday’s lottery, he said.
Dana added that non-residents shouldn’t feel discouraged.
“They have hope,” he said.
Ted Lyon, principal at the high school, said he has pulled students from far down on the list in the past.
“I’m glad we have a really solid waitlist,” he said.