Children work in class at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
Children work in class at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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Charter schools are open to the public and operate independently from local school districts. There are charter schools that emphasize language, culture, music and student achievement with each one developing its own educational program within state guidelines.

If a school participates in the Charter School Program, which provides financial assistance from the state, they must put applicants through a random public drawing – a lottery – if they have more applicants than space for them. If that happens, they must place all students applying for enrollment in a lottery.

The schools are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, homeless, academically low-achieving, or those socially or economically disadvantaged in the admissions process. They can, however, put in place some limited preferences or priorities as long as they follow guidelines from the state.

Here are some of the most common and unique lottery priorities in San Diego.

Common Priority Requirements

Children of employees at the school and those with a current student sibling will have a preference in the lottery.

In addition, children of military parents and those who are within the district boundaries will also receive priority for the charter school.

Playing the Bagpipes Gives Students Admission Preference

If your child is willing to make a two-year commitment to participate in the Bagpipe program at Helix Charter High School, then they will have preference over their counterparts. Some history on that: In 1950, the school was planned to be named La Mesa High School, but after opposition from those who wanted a more general name, it became Helix high. A month after the opening on September 1951, bagpiping students John Floyd and Gordon Boyce, along with others, began a tradition at Helix high school that is still known today. Inspired by the highlander nickname “Scotties,” they started the Helix Bagpipe Band, according to the school’s website.

Knowing Different Languages Give Students Admission Priority

If your child is fluent in German, then Albert Einstein charter schools will prioritize them in their lottery. As an International Baccalaureate school they focus their curriculum on growing students with an intercultural understanding and respect. The International Baccalaureate is a non-profit educational foundation and empower students to take ownership in their own learning to develop their skills.

Each charter school has its own deadline for applications so check their websites.

Gabriel Schneider is a former Voice of San Diego intern.

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