Taking a closer look at Hartford’s Regional School Choice Lottery

HARTFORD -- Hartford parents Susannah and Frank Marchese are anxiously awaiting the school lottery results for their 10-year-old-daughter, Nola, who will be entering sixth grade in the fall.

The parents have been researching school options for their daughter since the fall, until submitting her into the Regional School Choice Office Lottery. "We really did our homework," said Susannah Marchese.

The RSCO lottery encompasses all CREC schools, Hartford Magnet schools and participating public schools in outside districts. Most of the schools are theme based, catering to the arts or sciences.

Families entering into the lottery may submit up to five school choices. Students have a higher chance of being accepted into a school within the same system, such as moving from a CREC elementary school to a CREC middle school. Students also receive preference at schools where they have a sibling or faculty family member.

Families may enter their children into the lottery any year, but the most popular years are pre-K/kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade. Students who are not placed through the lottery are guaranteed entry into their neighborhood public school.

The Marchese Family first researched their options.

"We looked at their websites," said Susannah Marchese. "We asked lots of friends. We got lots of advice. We talked to our neighbors. We talked to the principal of our school. We talked to the teachers."

The family next attended open houses and fairs at the schools they liked. Nola then shadowed students at two prospective schools. Ultimately, the family said her top choice was Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy.

"This particular process, although time consuming and sweat inducing, has been relatively easy," said Susannah Marchese.

Her daughter's application will be one of roughly 20,000 that the Hartford Public School District receives annually. Less than half of those students are placed.

"It's a little bit of a crap shoot," said Susannah Marchese. "We really don't know where she's going to end up."

The family has, however, been satisfied with the school system and the lottery process so far.

"I talk to a lot of families that are not from Hartford, and their kids are in magnet schools in Hartford and they're having good experiences," said Frank Marchese.