Alternative schools get many applicants

Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Alternative schools in Fairbanks are getting plenty of applicants.

The newest addition to the Fairbanks School District is The Watershed School. The school has seen more than 290 families apply for seats in the school's first year.

It is scheduled to admit students from kindergarten through eighth grade and will emphasize place-based education. Educators will use the local community and natural environment to teach concepts in language arts, math, social studies, science and the arts.

The school is expected to open in September but it has only 198 spots available, said Watershed School Board president John Carlson.

Watershed isn't the only alternative school that has been flooded by applications this winter. Barnett Magnet School sees hundreds of applications every year and has adopted a waiting list for potential students.

The magnet school offers eight different afternoon exploratory classes for first through eighth grade, in addition to core subjects, which are taught for four hours in the morning.

The school received more than 230 applications for the 2009-2010 school year, more than 80 of which were for full-day kindergarten.

With only 69 vacancies school-wide, and 40 of those for kindergarten, administrative secretary Colleen Gaona said the school would have almost 50 students on its kindergarten waiting list for next fall.

It's the same story at the Chinook Charter School. Administrative secretary Susan Coltellaro said the school has 70-75 applicants for next year.

"Our turnover rate isn't very high," Coltellaro said. "We generally have over 90 percent retention for people who want to come to Chinook next year."

The school's total enrollment is 153 students.

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