Lottery and Waiting List Procedures

If for any grade level, the number of applicants exceeds the number of openings, there will be a lottery to determine enrollment and waitlist numbers.

Only applications completed before the deadline are included within the principal lottery pool. If the principal enrollment process fails to produce an adequate number of enrolled students, the lottery process may be repeated.

The lottery is conducted electronically and is open to the public with a neutral party assisting in the random processing of unique ID numbers. (Each student who completes an application receives a unique ID number by the system when the application is submitted. Applicants who submit the paper-based application is provided ID number manually by the main office).

The lottery is an electronic system that randomly identifies students for enrollment. During the lottery process, all students who have completed applications before the application deadline are sorted and numbered in random order. Lottery results determine the enrollment or waitlist status of each applicant with applicable and verified enrollment priorities.

All applicants not offered admission during the enrollment lottery are placed on a waiting list in the order the numbers are selected. The school keeps accurate records of waitlist information containing, the first, last and middle names, date of birth, cities or towns of residence, home addresses, telephone numbers, and grade levels of students who enter the lottery but does not gain the admission. As positions become available at each grade level, offers are made to the next student on the waitlist, taking into account priority preferences for admission. The waitlist is not static and is subject to change based these preference changes. It is important for parent/guardians to update their contact information if it changes because it may affect their position on the waitlist (e.g., move up or move down).

Siblings of students who already attend the school in the year of application have a preference for admission over non-sibling applicants. As per 603 CMR 1.00, the word “sibling” refers to persons who have a common parent, either biologically or legally through adoption. Enrollment priority is given to residents of the sending districts of school. HCSS-West: Agawam, Holyoke, West Springfield, and Westfield.

Families are notified at the lottery and by mail of their admission status (acceptance or placement on the waiting list). Families whose children are being offered admission receive a form on which to indicate acceptance of the school’s offer and a form with guidelines for proof of residency. If a student is accepted at the March lottery, that family must confirm in two weeks that the student will attend the school. To ensure that the student is able to enroll, the family must fill out and submit the acceptance statement and proof of residency or sibling status within two weeks. Additional forms are due during the course of the summer, and the assistance is provided as necessary. At any point prior to February 15 of the upcoming school year that an opening develops in grade six through ten, the school will notify the next student on the waiting list by phone and by mail with an offer of admission. The family has 10 days to confirm the enrollment. A vacancy not filled after February 15th moves into the subsequent grade to be filled the following school year if such grade is within 6th through 10th grades.

If the principal enrollment process fails to fill the available admission spaces, the school may repeat the process more than once providing such process is fair and open and that HCSS-West gives reasonable public notice at least one month prior to the application deadline. 603 CMR 1.05(8).

Applications completed after the application deadline are processed on the secondary lotteries. HCSS-West follows the same fair and open procedures (explained under lottery section) with secondary lotteries. HCSS-West gives public notice at least one month prior to the application deadline for secondary lotteries and one week prior to the lottery date. Secondary lotteries for grades where a waitlist has already been established from the principal lottery are held only after the initial wait list is exhausted. If needed, HCSS-West may repeat the enrollment process during the school year to fill openings and to meet the requirements of G.L. c. 70, § 89(n). No student may be admitted ahead of other eligible students who were previously placed on a waitlist during a prior enrollment process, except in cases where enrollment preferences change or as described in 603 CMR 1.05(10)(b).

Description of the Lottery Procedures

HCSS West determines the number of spaces available each year by grade level. All lotteries are conducted in public at HCSS-West. Each student who completes an online application receives a unique ID number by the system when the application is submitted. Applicants who submit a paper-based application are provided ID numbers manually by the main office. The parent or guardian of each applicant is entitled to know their child’s identification number in advance of the drawing to ensure the transparency and fairness of the process. Reasonable public notice is given at least one week prior to the lottery date 603 CMR 1.05(9). The lottery is conducted electronically, which includes all eligible applicants for each grade that submitted an application prior to the initial application deadline. Each applicant receives a random lottery number that is determined electronically, which establishes the original random rank order. Preferences for admission then are applied. A neutral party shall certify that the process is fair and that selection is random 603 CMR 1.05(9).

Receive Sibling Preference:

  • Children who live in different households but share a common biological or legal parent
  • Siblings of students who are due to graduate at the end of the school year in which the lottery is held
  • Students who are siblings of HCSS-West that the application is made.
  • If a student moves out of the local city or town but remains enrolled, that student’s siblings have preference in admission even though they are nonresidents at the time of application

Do Not Receive Sibling Preference:

  • Children who live in the same household but do not share a common biological or legal parent
  • Foster children
  • Siblings and children of alumni
  • Siblings of applicants who have been accepted for admission but are not yet attending (including twins)

Preference for admission is given first to applicants identified as siblings of currently attending students(“Siblings”) followed by applicants who reside in-district(“Residents”) and then by applicants who reside out-of-district(“Non-Residents”) without regard to when their application was submitted as long as it was prior to the application deadline. Reasonable proof of current residency is required at the time an offer of admission is made. G.L. c. 71, § 89(m); 603 CMR 1.05(6)(b).

HCSS-West does not give preference to children of the School’s staff or Board members.