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Orcutt Academy Program Posts Student Enrollment Records

Officials see increased demand for charter concept featuring smaller classes, college prep emphasis

More students than ever are applying to the Orcutt Academy Program, which set enrollment records this year at both its elementary and high school campuses.

The popular program remains a shining star within the Orcutt Union School District, which opened the K-8 Casmalia campus and Orcutt Academy High School with creation of the charter in 2008.

Since then, parents and students across Santa Barbara County have taken notice of the smaller class sizes and emphasis on college prep courses.

The K-8 campus drew 241 applications this year, and Orcutt Academy High saw 317 applicants vying for winning spots in the Orcutt Academy Program computerized lottery, which was hosted last week.

That’s nearly 60 more applications at the elementary level and 50 more to the high school than last year, according to Joe Dana, director of charter programs.

“We’ve seen increase in interest in Orcutt Academy, but this year we’ve seen more than we expected,” he told Noozhawk.

The Casmalia campus serves up to 81 students — nine in each grade — and the high school has 600 students, with 150 in each grade.

Because of the small class sizes, hundreds of students competed for just 10 open slots in elementary grades and 146 open seats at the high school.

Some spots are automatically filled because of the district’s policy that allows admittance to the children of staff or those with siblings already in the charter.

“It’s really tough,” Dana said of the serious lottery event. “It’s in our hearts to serve every kid who wants to come to Orcutt Academy, but we recognize that staying small is part of our success. I think our school is very steadily building a real solid reputation.”

Dana noted that Orcutt Academy High is still seeing more in-district applicants, who are given preference in the lottery based on a 2012 decision made by the Orcutt Board of Trustees.

He said students who weren’t picked during the lottery are added to a long waitlist, and could enroll throughout the school year as spots open up.

The longest wait is for ninth grade at Orcutt Academy High, with 115 students.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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