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School board considers lottery for pre-kindergarten spots

The McDuffie County school board discussed changing the way slots are filled for the lottery-funded Pre-K program, but tabled the issue until next month.

Officials asked the board to change the registration for the program from a first-come, first-served system to a lottery system which would choose participants randomly. A lottery system would put an end to lines of parents waiting for schools to open in order to secure a slot for their child.

School officials asked the board to consider implementing a lottery system similar to that used by Richmond and Columbia counties to fill the slots in the Pre-K program.

There are 40 slots at each of three schools -- Dearing, Thomson and Maxwell Elementary -- and under the current system, the slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Last year, parents showed up before 6 a.m. and stood in line to secure a slot for their child in the program, and there were some problems associated with that method, said Kathryn Collins, assistant superintendent for curriculum and development.

Last year, an early morning rain storm drove parents inside hallways of the schools and some confusion developed over the order of the line, Dr. Collins said.

Board Member Virginia Bradshaw supported the proposal to change the system, saying "I think a lottery is the best alternative for us."

Paul Leroy said, "You can really get into problems with lines and with people jockeying for position."

Newly-elected school board Chairman Jerry Randolph stated, "I'm not for the lottery -- that's just my opinion."

Pre-K registration is set for April 12 at Dearing Elementary School and April 13 for Thomson and Maxwell Elementary Schools.

The lottery proposal presented to the school board included the following factors:

  • Students must apply to the school for which they are zoned

  • All student applications will be accepted

  • Each student's name will be placed in a pool of names

  • The first 40 names drawn for each school will make up the two pre-k classes. Additional names will be placed on a waiting list in the order they were drawn

  • Parents will be notified the day after the lottery of their child's placement

  • Parents with students on the waiting list will be notified of their place on the list and their placement into a program if slots become available.

    Web posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005

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