The Princeton Charter School received a record number of entries for the student lottery for the 2016-17 academic year, school officials said.
Yesterday, school officials drew names for 92 slots at the school at a public drawing. The number of Princeton students registering for the lottery increased by 25 percent over the previous year, rising to 320 students, school officials said.
Last year, 260 Princeton students register for the lottery. Over the past five years, the school has had an average of 262 Princeton students registering for the lottery. The numbers do not include out-of-district registrants.
“This enthusiastic response is a clear indication of parental demand and support for the outstanding educational opportunities the Princeton Charter School offers to Princeton children,” Head of School Larry Patton said. “We received applicants from neighborhoods all across Princeton, and our new weighted lottery system and extensive outreach efforts worked to improve diversity at Princeton Charter School.”
Patton said 9.4 percent of the available seats went to economically disadvantaged students.
“This figure is in line with Princeton’s demographics and represents a cross-section of the community. It validates our multi-pronged strategy for increasing our economic diversity by moving our primary entry grade to kindergarten, expanding the number seats in K-2, and weighting our lottery,” Patton said. “Half of all income eligible students received a seat, and the remaining families are on the wait list for any additional seats that become available between now and September.”
Seats become available for wait listed students when students who entered the lottery decide not to attend the charter school, or when families decide to move out of town in the spring or summer, Patton said. “We’re extremely proud of our work to make all families living in our community aware of the tuition-free, first rate education offered at PCS and are excited to welcome our new families in September,” he said.
Last month the state approved the charter school’s proposal to expand its student population by 76 students over the next two academic years. The state also approved the district’s proposal to use a weighted lottery system to increase the chances for economically disadvantaged students to win seats at the school. The charter school will also expand its programs and services as part of its plans. The charter school’s expansion is controversial. The Princeton Public School has filed two lawsuits related to the expansion. Officials for the public schools argue the expansion will have a devastating financial impact on the public schools and that the expansion will cost the public schools $1.2 million annually. A Latino advocacy group based in Freehold has also filed a federal civil rights complaint against the charter school and other charter schools in Monmouth and Middlesex counties, alleging that the schools promote segregation.