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Riverhead Charter School holds selection lottery, applications on the rise

Riverhead Charter School in Calverton held its annual selection lottery Tuesday for the 2019-20 academic year and officials said the number of applicants has increased from approximately 100 last year to 205.

During the lottery, 103 students who filed applications before March 31 were randomly selected for admission to grades 1 through 8 in September, Superintendent Raymond Ankrum said. Those who were not placed or who applied after March 31 will remain on a wait list for additional spots, in order of their application dates. 

This year’s lottery comes about a year after the school received approval from the New York State Board of Regents to offer ninth and 10th grade beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. The Board of Regents also approved an increase in the school’s maximum enrollment — from 700 students to 787. Current charter school enrollment is 550, according to manager of operations Lilla Debowski. Roughly a year ago, the News-Review reported, the school’s enrollment was 492.

Ms. Debowski said there has been increased interest in high school classes at the charter school. However, ninth graders will not be admitted until September 2020. Tenth grade classes for that cohort will begin in September 2021.

Mr. Ankrum said school choice is at the forefront of parental concern in Riverhead.

“Parents want options,” he said. “The influx of applications and the robust waitlist puts us in a very unique position. We are pleased that parents and guardians are confident in our overall success and the product that we present.” 

Ms. Debowski said that while the number of applicants for existing grades has increased, the number of open seats is limited because most current students will return for the 2019-20 academic year. 

Every January, the charter school releases an intent-to-return form to current students. Based on those responses, Ms. Debowski said, the district determines how many seats will be available in September. School officials go through a similar process for available kindergarten seats.

This fall, Mr. Ankrum said, the school will consider options to further increase enrollment. 

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