Whether you choose traditional public schools, magnets, or charter schools, Baton Rouge families have to navigate a lot of information to choose the right school for their students. Unfortunately, making these decisions isn’t the end of the difficulty, as the enrollment process for some of our community’s highest-quality schools adds an additional layer of complexity.
The most in-demand schools in Baton Rouge use their own enrollment process and timeline, so while parents utilizing neighborhood schools get a school assignment a few weeks before the start of the school year, those families looking to access one of our community’s top schools must begin the enrollment process nearly a year in advance. This unsystematic approach to enrollment impacts access to the highest quality schools in the district, putting families least equipped to navigate the process at an inequitable disadvantage. Our community can do a better job of putting students first.
We Want to Take the Stress Out of Enrollment
The existing magnet enrollment process has parents accessing an online district-wide portal starting in October, about 10 months ahead of school start. The district portal requires parents to do the following:
- Prove residency
- Fill out demographic information
- Print, sign, scan, and upload documentation within 72 hours of starting the process
Once that districtwide application is complete, parents then must complete the application process for their top choice school. Each school maintains its own variation on the process, but they generally include providing the same documentation to the school as was provided to the district, in addition, to report cards for the last 2-4 grading periods, LEAP scores, or other documents to satisfy selective admission criteria. Finally, many schools require that parents submit these documents and the signed application in person during school hours.
Parents without reliable access to a printer and scanner, and who work jobs with limited daytime flexibility are placed at an unfair disadvantage over their more-resourced peers. These complicated systems can harm students’ opportunities to learn. Economically disadvantaged students make up just 55% of EBR’s magnet school population, while they comprise 85% of the District’s traditional neighborhood schools. As the district struggles with an inadequate supply of great schools, designing a streamlined and easy-to-navigate enrollment system for the great schools it does have will provide more equitable opportunities to benefit families of every economic and geographic circumstance.
Powering Equal Opportunity Education: The Solution
School districts around the nation have implemented single-point enrollment systems and streamlined one-stop-shop processes using a joint application for every school in their city. Presenting parents with a digital application inclusive of all educational choices and support to navigate their options will make enrolling in a high-quality school easier and more transparent for families.