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McAuliffe Charter School Held Lottery For Its Largest Class From Its Largest Applicants Pool

McAuliffe Charter School had its largest number of applicants ever for the sixth grade class at 283 students.

Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School Executive Director Kristin Harrison explain the new electronic lottery. Video Credit: Susan Scully Petroni
Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School Executive Director Kristin Harrison explain the new electronic lottery. Video Credit: Susan Scully Petroni

Thursday night was a night of firsts for the Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School.

The school had its largest number of applicants for the incoming sixth grade class with 283 applicants. There were 261 applicants last year for this year's current sixth grade class and 214 applicants for this year's current seventh grade class. There were 150 applicants, the year before that.

ALSO READ: McAuliffe Charter School Campus Approved by Framingham Planning Board

The school, located in downtown Framingham, accepted its largest number of siblings for the class of 2017. Siblings are given a guarantee prior to the lottery. In most years, the number of siblings has been in the 20s This year 38 siblings were accepted.

And the class of 2017 will be the largest class ever at the regional charter school at 144 students.

The charter school draws students from Framingham, Ashland, Natick, Holliston, Hopkintonm Sudbury and Marlborough. Students from outside the core communities may apply, but are considered after applicants from those eight communities.

And this year, for the first time, the lottery was held electronically. In previous years, named were pulled and read individually. This year, an Excel computer program randomly decided the order of accepted students.

Framingham Public Librarian Marci Maiorana started the Excel program that randomly selected the order of the applicants. Applicants 39 through 144 were accepted into the school and applicants 145 to 283 were placed on a waiting list.

After the computer determined the order of the applicants for acceptance into the Class of 2017, McAuliffe Executive Director Kristin Harrison read the names. Families had the option for the second year in a row, to have their child's name publicized or to ask for the name to be withheld.

The new electronic process said Harrison allowed the lottery to be quicker and still keep the process fair and accurate. 

The new process did seem to take a lot of emotion and waiting out of the lottery. In previous years, families screamed with delight at times when accepted and others wept when not accepted. This year's process was done quickly and quietly. A few families hugged their children when their names were read and snapped photos.

The first non-sibling name for the sixth grade class announced was Hayden Paolini, followed by Christian Palencia and then Joshua Mitchell. 

By using a lottery for acceptance, the charter school does not have any say in how many boys vs girls or studuents with additional needs, like special education or English as a Second Language are accepted.

Many families choose not to attend the lottery process, as it can be stressful for both the parents and the child. But there were about 40-50 parents and children in attendance last night.

The Charter school published the results of its lottery on its website by 8 p.m. Thursday.

After the class of 2017 was selected, McAuliffe Charter held a lottery for five openings in the seventh grade class. There were 28 applicants.

After the lottery was held, the McAuliffe School learned the Planning Board had approved its application to move to a new facility on Newbury Street across town in Framingham.

So once again, another first for the incoming class of 2017. They will be the first class to attend all three years at the new campus.

Editor's Note: My child is a seventh grade student at the charter school.

The charter school recently celebrating its 10th year. It is named for Framingham resident, Marian High and Framingham State graduate Christa Corrigan McAuliffe, who died tragically in the Challenger explosion, 28 years ago.

In early 2013, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously voted to approve the charter school’s request to increase the maximum enrollment from 306 to 396 students.


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