LocalEducation

Annual EdFEST to Help Parents Through School Lottery

EdFEST, an annual fair which explores the city’s many public school options for District children, returns to the DC Armory on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Representatives from more than 180 DC public schools and DC public charter schools will showcase their programs and parents and students will be able to learn about My School DC, the online common lottery.

The free even, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will also provide free services and fun activities from the DC Department of Health, DC Department of Parks and Recreation, DC Public Library and more.

“We also have partnered with the Department of Health to provide onsite immunizations,” said Cat Peretti, the executive director of My School DC. “All of our students must have their health forms in to start school and that requires up-to-date immunizations, so a mobile unit will be at the fair, too.”

The annual school enrollment lottery opens on Monday, Dec. 10 and it typically begins a flurry of activity.

At EdFEST, parents can learn which local school programs best fit their children’s interests and attendees will be able to browse the booths of more than 180 pre-kindergarten to 12th grade DC Public Schools and public charter schools for free.

About 5,000 people attended the event last year and officials are expecting at least that number this year. Peretti said 25,000 people enrolled in the lottery last year and officials are also expecting a repeat of that.

“DC is on the leading edge,” Peretti said. “We seek to make it easy for families to explore options and we have lots of schools in the District. One good piece of advice is to plan out and think about the schools you might like to see your child go to. Talk to friends and neighbors and the school staff because this is a large fair.

“The common lottery process is fairly unique to Washington, D.C. and a few other cities around the nation” she said. “You can apply to up to 12 schools and while the application opens Dec. 10, it’s not a first-come, first-served thing. The key date to remember is the deadline is Feb. 1 for high school students and March 1 for pre-K through eighth grade.”

Because EdFEST allows for a preview of the schools, parents and students can gauge programs offered in the District such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused classes; musical and visual arts curriculum; or access to foreign language tracks.

“EdFEST is also an opportunity to learn key resources that will support you and your child throughout your child’s educational journey,” Peretti said.

She outlined three steps that could benefit parents and students.

“Think about what’s most important to you and your family in a school: Is distance from home important? Before and after care? Academic offerings? Extracurricular activities?” Peretti said.

Also, she said parents should make a list of schools to visit, including their in-boundary schools. All should use the School Finder to search by address, grade, and program type and find DCPS and public charter schools that’s nearest, including the DCPS in-boundary schools.

“Ask questions,” Peretti said. “Download these helpful questions and bring them with you as you visit school booths on your list to help narrow your choices.”

Placements from the lottery are determined by computer algorithms which generate lottery numbers.

“We also look at preferences like maybe if a student has a sibling going to a certain school or they live in the boundary of a pre-K program which could move you up on the placement list or the wait list,” Peretti said.

Selective high schools “may have criteria that maybe academic or challenges,” she said.

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT MY SCHOOL DC
• My School DC is the common application and lottery for DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools for PK3 – grade 12.
• Submit an application if your child will be a NEW student at a:
• Participating public charter school (PK3-12)
• DCPS school outside your boundary or feeder pattern (PK3-12), including DCPS citywide schools
• PK3 or PK4 program at any DCPS school, including your in-boundary school
• DCPS selective high school or program (9-12)
• You do not need to submit an application if your child will enroll in his/her DCPS in-boundary or feeder school (K-12) or remain in his/her current school.
• Families can research schools using the School Finder: www.find.myschooldc.org. They can also locate their in-boundary schools with this tool.
• You can apply to up to 12 schools using the application. List the schools in the order you like most on the application—starting with your 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. Only select schools you want your child to attend.
• Students are matched with no more than one school and are waitlisted at schools they ranked higher than the school where they are matched or enrolled.
• My School DC is a random lottery. The lottery determines placement for new students at all participating schools. Student-school matches are based on the number of spaces available at each school, sibling and other lottery preferences, and each student’s random lottery number.
• The application is online-only and is available in English and Spanish. Application guides are also available for download in Amharic, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese HERE.
• Families can call the My School DC Hotline for direct application support in their language: (202) 888-6336. The hotline is open Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm.
• To apply, visit MySchoolDC.org or call 202-888-6336.
• EdFEST 2018 takes place Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at DC Armory, located at 2001 East Capitol St. SE.
• Admission and parking are free! Lots 3, 4 and 5 are available for attendees.
• Attendees can take Metro Rail or Bus to EdFEST. The closest Metro Rail station is Stadium-Armory on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines; closest Metro Bus routes are: B2, D6, 96, and 97.
• Interpretation in American Sign Language, Spanish, Amharic, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and French will be available throughout the event.
• Attendees can explore all their DCPS and public charter school options (PK3-12) and talk to representatives from each school to learn about programs and more. In addition, there will be free health screenings and immunizations from the Department of Health, fun family activities from the Department of Parks and Recreation, and more.
• Representatives from My School DC will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about the school lottery process and application.
• For more information about EdFEST, go to www.myschooldc.org/events/edfest.
• Follow My School DC on Twitter (@MySchoolDC), Facebook (/MySchoolDC), and Instagram (@MySchoolDC) for updates on #EdFEST18
• Sign up for email and text alerts HERE to receive up-to-date event information.
• RSVP here: https://edfest2018.eventbrite.com

Lottery Timeline for School Year 2019-20
• Dec. 8, 2018: EdFEST – the annual public school fair
• Dec. 10, 2018: My School DC application opens
• Feb. 1, 2019: Application deadline for grades 9-12
• March 1, 2019: Application deadline for grades PK3-8
• March 29, 2019: Release of lottery results
• May 1, 2019: Enrollment deadline for matched families

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Stacy Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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