McAuliffe Heights enrollment program detailed

Altoona Area School District’s magnet school, The McAuliffe Heights Program at Irving Elementary, is a popular choice for parents who want their children to receive an above-average education.

Complaints of a yearslong waiting list for enrollment in the school have spurred Altoona Area School Board to detail a specific student selection process.

On Monday, the board passed a first draft of an administrative regulation that answers questions of how the district will handle enrollment of siblings, twins and students in general.

The district’s newly defined regulation continues to grant enrollment preference to siblings of currently enrolled McAuliffe Heights students. But sibling privilege applies only if the older sibling is enrolled and attending during the year in which the newly admitted student starts in the school.

All other students who have completed the application requirements and are on the waiting list will be selected randomly from a pool of all applicants.

The preferential treatment of siblings of current McAuliffe Heights students is justified, the regulation states, because parents are required to volunteer hours in the school. Having a child at another school would result in parents having to choose their McAuliffe Heights child over the other, current McAuliffe Heights parents have said.

Parents of twins or multiple births who wish their children to attend McAuliffe Heights will be given one drawing selection. If their name is selected, each of the children will be granted admittance.

The selection of new students for enrollment into McAuliffe Heights will be conducted no later than March 30, the regulation states. Attendance at the selection drawings will be open to parents and guardians of prospective students.

The administrative regulation has been adopted as a first reading. It will be revisited and could change, said President Maryann Joyce Bistline.