The Gilbert Unified School District is limiting the number of district employees' children who can attend two of its popular academy schools.
The governing board decided Tuesday night to cap the number of new students of employees' children to 20 percent of the incoming grade per year based on an employee lottery. The change will affect students entering kindergarten at Neely Traditional Academy and seventh grade at Gilbert Classical Academy.
The 20 percent cap would mean no more than 23 students at Neely, and no more than 13 students at Gilbert Classical, would be employees' children.
Both schools have open enrollment with no set boundaries on where students must live, and both schools have long waiting lists.
Some parents had complained to the district about how difficult it was to enroll their children in these schools, and the school board asked district administrators to look into the policy.
Superintendent Dave Allison had proposed a cap of 10 district employees' children allowed at each school, with seniority of employment given preference. However, school board members requested that number change to a percentage during an August work study session.
Board clerk Van Dunham was the lone board member who wanted employee seniority, instead of employee lottery, considered when new students apply. He voted against the policy, which passed 3-1.
Neely Traditional will continue with a first-come, first-served waiting list and allow new students to apply the day after Labor Day. However, Gilbert Classical Academy, and any other future nonboundary school, will have a lottery for new students.
"It's always been this way," said Neely principal Gayle Blanchard. "Parents expect it. It works. It's not broken."
Gilbert Classical Academy, 55 N. Greenfield Road, is in its second year and has 242 students in seventh through 10th grades, said principal Brian Rosta. Next year, an 11th grade will be added.
The academy features a rigorous curriculum, using the Socratic method of instruction to encourage students to think critically and prepare for study at the university level.
All students receive a laptop and take courses in Latin and music.
Neely Traditional Academy, 321 W. Juniper Road, opened in 1999. The academy has 690 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The school provides a "back-to-basics philosophy," with a focus on basic subjects such as reading, writing and arithmetic, Blanchard said.