Friday, January 25, 2013

Campers Get Slots in Optional Schools

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Parents who camped out at the school board last week could breathe easier Friday as they turned in their paperwork for cherished spots in the most desirable optional schools.

Those seeking spots in top schools fall into three categories: the locks, the lucky, and the late.

The locks got low numbers and assured spots because they camped out multiple nights, some of them sleeping in tents or bringing propane heaters to stay warm.

The lucky either wound up near the back of the line or will take their chances in a lottery that determines 20 percent of the slots. Jeanie Harrison, who was at the school board auditorium Friday morning, hopes to get her child who is now at Richland Elementary into White Station Middle School. Her husband got in line last Sunday, but the early birds got there three days before. Monday night the Harrisons opted for a propane heater and lawn chairs. Her number is 96. There are 100 slots at the school, and there were 68 parents seeking those slots in front of them. Because siblings get priority, the Harrisons, who have no children currently at the school, are on the bubble.

"I don't think we will know for four to six weeks," she said. "We will probably be in the lottery."

Candite Harbin got number 385 and also hopes to get her child into White Station Middle School. She did not camp out and instead came to the school board on Tuesday. She too is likely to wind up in the lottery.

The optional school game has a new wrinkle this year because of the merger of the city and county school systems and all the attention on public education. Bianca Williams was at the board Friday hoping to get her daughter, who now attends Harding Academy, into White Station Middle School. She was told that she will not know the outcome for another six to eight weeks.

An indication that the process is even-handed — one of the mothers at the board auditorium Friday morning who camped out last week was Maura Black Sullivan, deputy chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis. Also in line was attorney Lori Patterson, who is representing the Shelby County Commission in the schools cases.

Linda Sklar, head of the optional schools program, said final numbers on applicants would be available Sunday. I will update this post when I have more information.

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