St. Vrain Valley Schools open enrollment moves online

Originally published in the Times-Call >>


The St. Vrain Valley School District is moving to an online application for the upcoming open enrollment season, plus a more centralized process.

Open enrollment starts Dec. 3.

"Parents don't have to get up early and stand in line," said Amber Muir, St. Vrain's student data manager. "It's an improvement for St. Vrain."

Previously, parents filled out a paper application and returned it to the school where they wanted to open enroll a child, sometimes lining up early in the morning to secure a spot.

Open enrollment will continue to be first-come, first-served, but now based on a time stamp on the online application, which will be a Google form. Parents without access to a device can fill out an application at a school.

School principals will continue to approve applications based on space availability, but the district will handle sending out acceptance and wait list notification letters.

The district plans to send acceptance letters to parents no later than Jan. 17. Parents need to contact the school by Feb. 1 to accept or turn down the spot.

While open enrollment generally is first-come, first-served, principals can use certain preferences if there are more applicants than space, based on the open enrollment policy.

Those include giving preference to children of a school's employees, to a student with a sibling attending the school and to in-district versus out-of-district students.

While none of the district's schools are closed to open enrollment because of a lack of space, some schools — especially in fast-growing Erie — might have few available seats or have a specific grade level that's full.

If parents want to try to get a child into multiple schools, they must still fill out a separate online application for each school.

A separate application also is required for each child, even if applying for enrollment for siblings at the same school.

Charter schools will continue to run their own open enrollment processes.

Muir said the district began considering moving to an online application after opening up its two new schools, Soaring Heights PK-8 in Erie and Grand View Elementary in Frederick, for open enrollment last school year.

Because the schools were under construction, there was no physical location for parents to turn in applications.

"The idea was sparked at that point," Muir said.

Plus, she said, paper applications can be misplaced, while online applications give district planners and special services administrators access to data to help them plan for the coming school year.

Plus, she said, as the district grows it was becoming unwieldy to have each school handle open enrollment.

In 2017, 6,055 elementary students open enrolled or were administratively placed in schools other than their neighborhood school, as were 5,623 secondary students.

Altogether, 11,678 students, or about 37 percent of students, attend schools other than their neighborhood schools. That number includes the 1,583 students who open enrolled from other school districts.

State law requires schools to allow open enrollment as long as there is space.