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CPS Consensus On Lottery, Next Challenge: Preschool Seats

Ann Thompson
2015 Kindergarteners at Roselawn-Condon School use their engineering skills to build a see-saw.

Before the end of the 2015-2016 school year the board for Cincinnati Public Schools is expected to finalize the way parents sign their kids up for magnet and neighborhood schools.

According to district spokeswoman Janet Walsh, "There does seem to be a very clear consensus to continue the online lottery. That seems to be working well in the board's opinion. As a matter of fact, that was the result of the weeks of engagement that we had after the policy was implemented."

Last fall CPS switched to a lottery to eliminate long lines and camp outs for popular schools like Fairview- Clifton German Language School and Sands Montessori. The district then surveyed parents, and held town hall meetings to gauge satisfaction.

Above all, committee chair and board member Elisa Hoffman says the sign-up has to be fair. "I think the goal of the board is really around equity and making sure no matter where you live in the city, no matter how much money you make, et cetera, that you all have equal access to all of those options."

Parents signing up for CPS preschool also went through the lottery system. The board agreed there are not enough preschool seats. The current 1,200 seats will be expanded to 1,500 next school year. But according to Preschool Promise numbers the need is closer to 9,000.

Walsh says, "We're going to open the former Vine Street Elementary School which we own, next school year, to add preschool classes. We're looking at some potentially other satellite preschools in space that we're working on, on the Westside."

To pay for an expansion, Preschool Promise and CPS are finalizing the amount for a November levy.