Proposed Sussex Tech policy puts emphasis on transparency

According to Dan Shortridge, public information officer for the Sussex Technical School District, in the interest of greater transparency and openness, the Sussex Technical Board of Education is considering a freshman admissions policy that he said codifies past practice and puts the random lottery process formally in the hands of the state Data Service Center.

As part of the district’s ongoing policy review, he said, Sussex Tech Superintendent Stephen Guthrie has proposed a formal policy for the school board’s approval. The policy emphasizes the fully transparent and random nature of Sussex Tech’s admissions system, while unifying prior procedures in one location, Shortridge noted. The associated administrative regulations spell out procedures for incoming freshmen and upper-class applicants, he said.

“Sussex Tech’s freshman admissions process is fair, equitable, impartial and transparent, and we hope this formal policy will help emphasize that to the community,” Guthrie said. “Contracting with the Data Service Center to conduct the lottery, as other districts do, was an important move toward that goal this year.”

“We have heard concerns and are responding. We want the public to have full confidence in the fairness of Sussex Tech’s admissions process,” said Board of Education President Warren Reid. “This policy proposal is a first step for this board to take action.”

Shortridge said student interest continues to grow in Sussex Tech’s award-winning career and technical programs. With about a month to go before the application period closes, he said, there have been 621 applicants for the incoming freshman class — surpassing last year’s total of 580 eligible applicants. Sussex Tech is able to admit about 300 students each year. The application period closes Jan. 9, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.

The Board of Education discussed the proposal at its November meeting and was scheduled to consider it for a second reading and possible vote at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 10.

The proposed policy and regulations state:

• Incoming freshmen will be admitted through a random lottery as outlined in Delaware Code. The lottery will be overseen by the state Data Service Center.

• Upper-class students may apply for admission on a case-by-case basis, with decisions based on the number of freshmen on the waiting list and program space availability. Upper-class applications will generally be limited to incoming 10th-graders; 11th- and 12th-grade applicants will only be considered if transferring from another career/technical program and if they have the credits to complete Sussex Tech’s requirements.

• The admissions lottery results will be reported annually to the Board of Education.

The proposed policy may be reviewed at the district website at$file/8.H.%20Proposed%20New%20Policy%20JFA%20Freshman%20Admissions%20Lottery.pdf.