School Choice is not an Option for Some Kids Because of Enrollment Preferences

Students typically attend their assigned feeder school unless a parent choices their child into another school. School choice is an option that many families in New Castle County use. A member of the community had concerns about the preferences being used by First State Montessori School. This school is located in the city of Wilmington and one of the preferences is a 5 mile radius. The issue with this preference, it is last on the preferences being used which means children who live within the 5 mile radius may not get into this school before other children who may live outside the 5 mile radius. In the Montessori charter application it states: “To achieve a vibrantly diverse and active community of staff, students, families, and friends of the school.” Why is the five mile radius preference last if this is their goal?

Below are First State Montessori Academy admission preferences.

  1. Children of FSMA founders (up to 5% of the school’s population)
  2. Children of staff employed 20 hours or more a week by FSMA
  3. Siblings of children currently enrolled at FMSA this school year (2014-2015)
  4. Applicants who have demonstrated an interest in the Montessori teaching philosophy
  5. Children whose primary residence is within a 5-mile radius of FSMA on the date of the lottery.

Preference #4 could be a roadblock for families living in the city who would like to send their children to this school but cannot because their child did not previously attend a Montessori school or a Montessori camp. Private Montessori schools charge tuition and how many private Montessori schools are currently located in the city? Other options for showing an interest at this school: the family could participate in a teleconference with FSMA administrators or board member and discuss the educational philosophy, attend a session, tour or educational program sponsored by FMSA or submit a 100 word essay on FSMA’s teaching philosophy. Again, these are ways for a school to pick the students who seem to have a better fit and to deny access to others.

For more information about FSMA, click here.

1 thought on “School Choice is not an Option for Some Kids Because of Enrollment Preferences

  1. Eve Buckley

    I agree, #4 looks like a big black box, easily abused. I’d say if you apply to FSMA, you have demonstrated an interest (and certainly if you attend an open house). #5 should either be eliminated or moved before #4 (which is quite vague).



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