GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A divided Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board agreed Wednesday to automatically allow enrollment at Carbondale Community School (CCS) for siblings of students already enrolled in the school.
The shift in policy means siblings will not be subject to a lottery to join their brother or sister at CCS. Such has been the case under the school's charter agreement with the district for the past several years.
But the Re-1 board voted 3-2 at its regular meeting in Glenwood Springs Wednesday evening to change the policy, allowing 100 percent sibling preference for enrollment at CCS.
The board heard emotional pleas from several CCS parents who have had one child chosen in the school's enrollment lottery, but were not so lucky when a younger sibling applied for enrollment.
As a result, families are forced to split their time between different schools where their children are enrolled, limiting the amount of volunteer time they can commit, said several of those who spoke.
Currently, 50 percent of the available slots that open up each year at CCS, which has a cap of 135 students and only so many kindergarten slots each year, are reserved for siblings. If there are more siblings applying to get into the school than there are available slots, those names go into a separate lottery.
"I'm persuaded by the comments of these parents that this is the right way to go," school board member Daniel Biggs said.
School board President Matt Hamilton said he remained skeptical about changing the policy, which was meant to maintain access to CCS for the broader community and to achieve a more diverse mix of Anglo and Latino students.
But, he said he also understands the parents' argument about keeping siblings together in the same school.
"I still have deep concerns about opening the sibling policy, but I am persuaded by the parent involvement in this school," Hamilton said before voting in favor of the change, along with board members Biggs and Terri Lott Richardson.
Interim District Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko also recommended approval of the policy change.
"Access is a concern," she acknowledged. "But, logistically, it is hard for parents to participate in a school if their children are in different schools. I do think we have to look at what is best for our schools, and our families."
School board members Bob Johnson and Richard Stettner said they would prefer to keep the limited sibling policy in place.
"I believe it's clearly stated when a student is admitted that there is no guarantee for siblings," Stettner said. "What about all the other families who want to get in, but can't? I'm having a hard time understanding how this is fair."
The amended sibling policy is part of the required five-year charter renewal for CCS to continue operating as a charter school under the Re-1 school district.