The Mesa Unified School District is going to try again to find out where Alma Elementary parents plan to enroll their children next school year.
The governing board voted in January to change Alma into its fifth Franklin school, a type of school that uses a back-to-basics format, enforces a dress code, holds special classes such as choir and band before or after school, and requires parent involvement.
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The format has proven popular at the district’s other Franklin campuses, where there already are waiting lists for next year. Because of the popularity of the program, the decision was made to offer Franklin at the Alma site for Dobson Ranch area families.
But so far, families of just 86 students have completed all the steps necessary to enroll there next school year.
“We are committed to establishing a Franklin at Alma Elementary,” said assistant superintendent Pete Lesar. “And we are confident we can get a student enrollment there that will make it a viable option for all students in the Dobson Ranch area.”
But before enrolling at a Franklin school, parents must watch a video about the program, meet with a Franklin principal and participate in two hours of class observation.
More than 200 families started the process at Alma by participating in community forums that take care of the first two steps. There were 120 at the first meeting just for current Alma families. Another 12 families attended the Spanish meeting.
After 6,000 postcards were sent out to Dobson families, 24 showed up at a third meeting.
This week, the district will send out a letter to current Alma families asking them to declare their intentions for next year, Lesar said.
Franklin schools operate on an open enrollment policy, which means anyone can apply to attend there regardless of where they live. The current Alma school boundaries were changed for next school year and redrawn to move students to the Crismon, Washington and Lincoln elementary schools.
Current Alma parents have three choices for next school year: the Franklin at Alma program; the school they’ve been assigned to based on the new boundaries; or open enroll in another Mesa school.
“We want to make sure they understand their options,” Lesar said.
Lesar said to help the district plan staffing for next year, it’s going to ask parents to declare their choice.
“Our plans are to revisit the numbers to get a sense of how many we have at each grade level,” Lesar said.
The district started a Franklin junior high program this school year, and it started small. But next year, it will have 130 students, Lesar told the governing board during a study session last week.
The district is also informing families currently on other Franklin school waiting lists that they can choose Alma.