TWIN FALLS — If you want your child to attend a public charter school next year, now is the time to act.
Open enrollment for south-central Idaho’s four public charter schools begins either this month or in February, depending on the school, for the 2019-20 school year.
Public charter schools — which don’t charge tuition and are open to all students — provide options for families and have the flexibility to offer innovative programs.
Once prospective students turn in applications, openings at each school will be filled through a lottery system. The Idaho Public Charter School Commission sets strict requirements for how that process works.
Here are details about open enrollment:
Xavier Charter School (Twin Falls)
Open enrollment begins Feb. 1 and runs through March 31. The enrollment lottery will be held April 15.
Interested parents must fill out a form on Xavier’s website. Also, current Xavier families must fill out a form by March 31 indicating whether they’re planning to re-enroll their child next school year.
For new families trying to get into Xavier, it’s a long shot. As of October, Xavier had 361 children on a waiting list.
The waiting list is wiped clean every year and a new one is created after the enrollment lottery. Parents can add their child’s name to the waiting list any time during the school year.
School administrator Gary Moon said Tuesday he anticipates the school will have a waiting list next year for kindergarten through eighth grades, and possibly ninth grade. There are usually openings in 10th through 12th grades.
“Our lower end is always full,” Moon said.
Xavier will have 48 spots available for kindergarten next school year. “Obviously, all kindergartners are new and they’re all drawn through the lottery,” Moon said.
In the elementary school grades, interested parents have a slightly better chance of getting their child into fourth grade. That’s because the total number of students per grade level jumps that year.
“There are always 10 openings for incoming fourth-graders,” Moon said.
Xavier, which opened in 2007, has about 700 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The school’s charter specifies a maximum of 810 students, but there’s not enough space in the school building to accommodate more students.
With a long waiting list and limited building space, Xavier has essentially stopped advertising to seek more students.
The school is known for its rigorous academics and high test scores. It uses a classical model of education with an emphasis on fine arts, including music, theater, dance and visual arts. It also offers extracurricular activities such as clubs.
Information: 208-734-3947 or xaviercharter.org.
Heritage Academy (Jerome)
Heritage Academy’s open enrollment is underway and will close at 11:59 p.m. April 1. A lottery drawing will be held at 11 a.m. April 2.
Interested families can enter the lottery by calling the school or going to the school’s website.
Superintendent Christine Ivie wasn’t available to comment Tuesday.
Heritage Academy, which opened in 2011, has about 225 students in kindergarten through eighth grades.
Beyond core curriculum, Heritage Academy uses a schoolwide enrichment model developed by professors at the University of Connecticut. Each week, elementary school children participate in enrichment clusters. Middle school students have their choice of elective classes.
Heritage Academy also offers full-day kindergarten and a free breakfast and lunch program for all students.
Information: 208-595-1617 or heritageacademyid.org.
North Valley Academy (Gooding)
Intent-to-enroll forms are on North Valley Academy’s website. An enrollment lottery will be held at 9 a.m. April 7.
Principal Jeff Klamm wasn’t available to comment Tuesday.
North Valley Academy, which opened in 2008, has about 260 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The school focuses on creating patriotic and educated leaders.
Offerings include full-day kindergarten and a string orchestra program. Students are required to wear uniforms.
There’s a mastery-based education program for middle and high schoolers. It allows students to complete work digitally at their own pace, but they still have face-to-face interaction with teachers.
Information: 208-934-4567 or northvalleyacademy.org.
Syringa Mountain School (Hailey)
Open enrollment is underway at Syringa Mountain School and continues through Feb. 15. The enrollment lottery will be drawn Feb. 20 and new incoming families will be notified by email Feb. 27.
Interested families can find a form to fill out on the school’s website. Families of current students must also fill out a shorter form to indicate whether they’re planning to re-enroll next school year.
There’s no waiting list this school year, but school officials expect there could be one for kindergarten next school year.
Syringa Mountain School, which opened in 2014, has about 130 students in kindergarten through seventh grades, and it will add eighth grade next year.
The public Waldorf school has a nature-oriented approach that de-emphasizes technology, with the goal of developing students’ imagination.
Children learn through methods such as storytelling, puppetry, songs, poetry, movement and hands-on projects. Syringa also has a music program, instruction in foreign languages, and a farm and garden program.
Information: 208-806-2880 or syringamountainschool.org.