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Charter council to vote on admission policy change

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The Governing Council of Sidney Gutierrez Middle School of Roswell has decided to vote on a proposed change to its admission policy to allow preference for siblings of current students only.

The council had the first reading of its revised policy at its Monday night meeting. Council members now plan to have a second reading followed by a vote at a special meeting Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, 409 E. College St.

The decision is scheduled to occur before Sidney Gutierrez, the city’s only charter school, begins to accept applications starting in January for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“We basically are trying to get in line with state statutes,” said Bill Wolf, council president.

New Mexico law requires charters to give preference in admissions to siblings of current students. But Sidney Gutierrez, in an effort to build family loyalty and ensure ongoing enrollment, historically has extended that preference to siblings of even past students, although it narrowly defined siblings as blood relatives or legally adopted siblings.

But as the charter has grown during the past 17 years and its academic successes as the city’s only consistently ranked “A” school have become well known, the number of students seeking to attend each enrollment period has grown as well. Now applications far exceed available slots each year. Those slots are filled first by siblings, with any remaining openings determined by lottery draws.

The charter currently limits the middle school to 66 students, ideally 22 students in each grade, sixth through eighth. Only in rare circumstances can enrollment exceed 66 people, and that is only with the permission of the Roswell Independent School District, which authorizes the charter.

In prior discussions about the change, which was mentioned during 2017 council discussions as well, Principal Joe Andreis noted that given the fact that the number of past students grows each year, the time was not too far off — with the current policy in place — when there would be so many eligible sibling applicants that no open slots would be available to the community.

The admission policy change is meant to give more families in the community a chance to attend the school.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.