Gilbert wants to cap number of employees’ kids at academies - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gilbert wants to cap number of employees’ kids at academies

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Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2008 3:17 pm | Updated: 9:58 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Gilbert Unified School District wants to limit the number of district employees’ children who can attend two of its popular academy schools.

The proposed policy change would affect new students wanting to attend Neely Traditional Academy and Gilbert Classical Academy, both of which have long waiting lists.

Neely has about 280 students on the list, while Gilbert Classical has close to 200 students waiting, according to the schools’ principals.

Both schools have open enrollment with no set boundaries on where students must live.

The policy proposes a cap of 10 district employees’ children allowed at each school, with seniority of employment given preference.

However, after discussing the issue during a work study session Tuesday, district officials said they may change that number to a percentage.

Some parents have complained to the district about how difficult it is to enroll their children in these two schools, and the school board asked district administrators to look into the policy.

“It’s nice to give employees a perk, but when there’s so many of them who want their kids enrolled, it doesn’t create a balance between employees’ kids and our parents’ kids,” Superintendent Dave Allison said. “And then again, employees are also our parents.”

A committee comprised of district officials and the two academy principals started working on the policy changes last spring, Allison said.

The policy would make more of a difference at Gilbert Classical Academy. This year, the school has 27 seventh-graders who are children of employees, said principal Brian Rosta.

Neely has two students this year that are employees’ children, said principal Gayle Blanchard.

Gilbert Classical Academy, 55 N. Greenfield Road, is in its second year and has 242 students in seventh through 10th grades, Rosta said. 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 “backto-basics philosophy,” with a focus on basic subjects such as reading, writing and math, Blanchard said.

District officials will take another look at the proposed enrollment changes and may come back to the board with a couple of options, Allison said.

He expects to bring the policy back by the first board meeting in October.

The policy needs to be approved before the Nov. 3 enrollment deadline for district employees.

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