Leader Blues

Friday, April 24, 2009

TOP STORY >> Lottery decides who gets into charter school

Leader staff writer

Approximately 250 people attended the first Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School lottery at the community center Thursday evening.

The lottery determined who would get into the new school this fall.

There were 344 spots available, but 611 applicants.

Children whose names were not drawn to fill those slots were later drawn and placed on a waiting list. The waiting list will carry over each year. A lottery from that list will most likely be held next year to fill the kindergarten spots.

The lottery began with a welcome and introduction from newly appointed board president Keri Urquhart. Board members were introduced, as well as the principal Nigena Livingston.

Laura Peeples of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, who doesn’t have children attending the school, was chosen to draw names.

“I felt she was a good representation for Jacksonville,” Urquhart said of Peeples. “She’s a non-biased person. She does not have children or relatives (who applied to the school).”

Rebel Wilson, who serves as treasurer for the board, reviewed the lottery procedures, and Roger Sundermeier called the names of applicants before their grades were drawn.

“I thought it went really well,” Urquhart said Friday. “You really hate for anyone not to get in.

“I think it’s going to be a good, diverse school and a good school year,” she added.

Urquhart was appointed school board president at a special board meeting April 16, after board president George Biggs resigned. The board learned of Biggs’ resignation after its regular monthly meeting April 14, which Biggs did not attend. He resigned after The Leader revealed he had a felony conviction from 1990 in the shooting death of a man in Texarkana, Texas.

The board also selected Livingston as the school’s principal at the special meeting. Livingston is currently principal at Cleveland Lighthouse Community School in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lighthouse Academies is a national organization that assists in establishment of charter schools and has been instrumental in formation of the one in Jacksonville.

The school will be located at 251 N. First St. and will open on Aug. 17.