In a split vote, the McDuffie County school board changed the way the lottery funded Pre-K program fills slots from first come, first served to a lottery.
The move should put an end to parents who show up before 6 a.m. in order to secure a place for their child at a particular school.
The Board approved the week of April 11-15 to have open registration for the Pre-K program at all three elementary schools. The slots will be filled according to a lottery system, and in line with a state policy, children of school employees may attend the school where their parents work.
There are a total of 40 slots at each of three schools -- Dearing, Thomson and Maxwell, and several private vendors offer Pre-K, said Kathryn Collins, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
As part of the decision for a lottery system, children from multiple births, such as twins, will be stapled together and drawn as one document although they will take up two spaces, Dr. Collins said.
A community member or a school board representative will be at the drawing, a move suggested by Nether Ivery.
"Having community members present adds to the integrity (of the lottery)," said Thomson Elementary School Principal Donald Davis.
The lottery system should take care of some safety issues that occurred last year when parents stood in line long before school started. It should also prevent some tense situations from developing that have occurred in the past when parents stood in line for hours, but just missed getting a spot for their children.
Not everyone was happy with the decision to go to a lottery system. Parents addressed the board last month, and this month, parent Laura Holt spoke in favor of the first come, first served system.
Parents motivated enough to go through the early morning process are the same parents who will support the program, she said.
"Lots of former Pre-K parents feel like I do," said Ms. Holt, whose son is in kindergarten this year after a successful Pre-K experience last year.