More than 8,500 students in the District are on wait lists for one or more charter schools this year, and nearly 7,000 are on them for at least one traditional public school, according to data released this week.
The new wait-list numbers show significant increases in the number of students on wait lists: The charter wait lists are 18 percent longer than they were last year, and the traditional school wait lists are 25 percent longer.
School-by-school wait lists now available online for charter schools and for D.C. Public Schools underscore the demand citywide for strong academic options in a city where interest and enrollment in public schools are growing but quality remains uneven. Results of the schools lottery were released March 26.
Wait lists show that demand is particularly high for specialty offerings, including foreign language and Montessori programs, as well as at the preschool level.
“We look forward to working with school leaders and community members to create more quality options for the thousands of students on charter wait lists and the thousands more moving into the District each year,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board.
Families in the District can apply for up to 12 traditional and charter schools through a common lottery. My School DC — which the office of the deputy mayor for education operates — runs the lottery.
The District offers full-day preschool to children starting at age 3, but families must apply for a spot through the lottery. Starting at kindergarten, families do not have to use the lottery if they want to enroll in their neighborhood school.
There were 4,925 applications for PK3 this year, up from 4,250 last year.
The vast majority of applicants were matched with a school but can still remain on wait lists for schools ranked higher on their list. The charter board reported more than 9,000 names on wait lists for preschool through kindergarten, including names appearing on multiple lists.
Two Rivers Public Charter School, an “Expeditionary Learning” model school in Northeast, had the longest wait list of any charter, with 1,381 children waiting for a spot in preschool through eighth grade. Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB) public charter school in Northwest had the longest list for PK3, with 536 names.
LAMB is one of 16 charter schools out of 112 that did not participate in the common enrollment lottery but offered its own online application instead.
Among traditional schools, Brent Elementary in Ward 6 had the longest schoolwide wait list, with 880 names, and Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan had the longest wait list for PK3, with 367 names, followed by Ross Elementary School in Ward 2 with 348.
D.C. Public Schools released more detailed information about each school’s wait list, including how many accepted and wait-listed students have preferences by virtue of living in-boundary or having a sibling enrolled, as well as living in close proximity to the school.
Such information can give parents a better sense of how quickly or slowly the wait list will move, said Christopher Rinkus, deputy chief of enrollment and school funding at D.C. Public Schools. Families with a clear connection to the school are more likely to accept a seat, if offered, he said.
This is the first year that wait lists will be managed centrally through My School DC. Families can log in on their personal Web site account to see their results and how the numbers change over time. In past years, parents needed to call each school if they wanted to know how they were faring.
The deadline to enroll, for families who were matched with a school, is May 1 — so most of the movement likely will happen after that. But schools may start offering extra seats sooner, said Catherine Peretti, My School DC’s executive director.
Families who did not get into any school during Round 1 are eligible to apply for a second round by May 8. The school-by-school wait lists can help parents find schools that still have available seats.