Weaver Elementary School may have to hold a lottery to see who makes it into the school’s popular kindergarten program.
It is a new problem for the school and a possibility that has some families on edge.
More and more families are angling to get their children into the school. This is the week that parents sign their children up for kindergarten, and by midweek, there were only three spots left for next year’s class of 120 kindergartners. If more than three additional children sign up by Friday, the school may have to hold a lottery to see who makes it into the district’s only year-round school next year.
The situation is a far cry from the Weaver’s first year in 1996, when the Los Alamitos Unified School District had to go outside the district to find students willing to fill the classrooms. With a majority of students from outside the district, Weaver has built a reputation as one of the best schools in the county, and it’s now drawing more and more students from Seal Beach, Rossmoor and Los Alamitos. The shift has forced the district to consider changing its policy, which gives preference to the siblings of existing students. It is the only school in the district that gives preference to the siblings of students from outside the district over new students from within the district.
“It’s hard for us because we have loyalty to our siblings because their families have been such a part of building the culture of Weaver,” said Principal Erin Kominisky. “I have been at this school for 15 years, and when we first started in 1996, we couldn’t get enough kids to attend. Weaver is built on inter-district transfer families.”
In recent years, parents have lined up in lawn chairs overnight to be the first to enroll, added Kominisky.
“It’s one of the highest-performing schools in the state, with a 978 API score and a year-round calendar,” said Los Alamitos Unified School District Superintendent Gregory Franklin. “More and more intra-district families are choosing Weaver, so we are taking a look at our policies that dictate enrollment.”
Weaver is the district’s only “wildcard” with no enrollment boundaries, said Eamon O’Donovan, assistant superintendent.
Previously, the school has had six kindergarten classes. Last year there were 5½ (counting the kindergarten and first-grade combination class), and next year there will be only five classes, he said.
Factors such as a school modernization project at Weaver in 2013 would make it challenging for the district to add portable classrooms or expand in any way.
If more than 120 students enroll by Friday, the prudent thing to do will be to hold a lottery, O’Donovan added.
If a lottery becomes necessary, the district might consider changing its enrollment policy for the school next year to give preference to siblings and students from within the district.
However, if younger brothers and sisters can’t make it into the kindergarten class, their older siblings in grades one through five might have to transfer to other schools, since Weaver offers the only year-round calendar in the district.
“I would love to have a discussion about creating a year-round middle school and putting another elementary school on that track,” said board member Jeffrey Barke.