Charter school enrollment lotteries are emotional and frustrating events for families, since applicants far outnumber available seats. Alma del Mar Charter School held their lottery this past week to determine which children can enroll. Rules make it clear that anyone connected to the school is ineligible to launch the lottery. I gladly accepted the invitation to help the Alma del Mar staff to conduct their annual lottery.

Facing me were more than 100 hopeful families, friends and children. It was held for the 2019-2020 school year, attracting nearly 750 applications—a 35 percent increase over last year's application cycle. Alma del Mar received 198 applications for 45 available seats for next year's kindergarten. The school also received 550 applications for grades 1-8, where there are currently no openings.

Just before everyone joined in counting down to the moment I initiated the electronic process, I thanked the families for their commitment to their children, saying nothing is more important than what they're doing right now. These parents were making a decision for their families that they wanted an opportunity for their children.

Then, a different kind of reality check happened when I asked the crowd to loudly cheer for the incoming Class of 2036, which is how next year's kindergarten class will be referenced as 2036 is the year the children would graduate from college.

This lottery was held for Alma's flagship school at 515 Belleville Avenue, which currently serves 450 scholars in grades K-8. Alma was recently approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to add another K-8 school in New Bedford. An enrollment plan is being developed for this new campus.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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