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District resolves lottery policy for the short term

REGION — Taylor Lessley and 60 other students will be able to attend San Dieguito High School Academy after all.

The San Dieguito Union High School District announced this week that the district had created enough capacity at the Encinitas campus to accept the wait-listed students whose parents had protested the district’s open-enrollment policies over the past two months.

The district achieved the added capacity in the short term by consolidating classes into underused classrooms. Long-term, the school will be able to accommodate the increased capacity with new classrooms being built as part of the district’s bond program.

“It’s a feel good story,” District Superintendent Rick Schmitt said. “We were able to solve our short-term capacity issues and find space for the kids.”

In recent weeks, parents have protested the district’s lottery policy, which kept 65 neighborhood students out of San Dieguito High School Academy, instead sending them to La Costa Canyon.

Parents have contended the policy forces those families into a longer, traffic-filled commute and tore them away from lifelong peer groups.

Some have called on the district to consider changing both San Dieguito and Canyon Crest academies from open-enrollment schools to schools that would feed from the neighborhood, the model currently used at Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon.

The district in June voted to create a task force to examine its policies and determine if any changes needed to be made to the policies or school boundaries.

Schmitt said the district will listen to the task force if its findings direct the district in a different direction, such as a boundary change. But in the short term, trying to redraw boundaries on the fly was unfeasible, Schmitt said.

“It wasn’t easy to do because of how complex it was,” he said.