About 100 Reynoldsburg eighth-graders won't attend the high school academy of their choice this fall, thanks to a recent school board decision to cap attendance on the Summit Road campus.

About 100 Reynoldsburg eighth-graders won't attend the high school academy of their choice this fall, thanks to a recent school board decision to cap attendance on the Summit Road campus.

Although school board members announced the decision May 1, a number of parents and students recently said they felt "blindsided" after being consistently assured by district leaders that each student would get his or her first choice of academy.

"It is up to me to advocate for my own child," said parent Jennifer Bernay, who also is a part-time substitute teacher for the district. "My son, Paul, is a current eighth-grader who was set on Summit campus from the beginning."

Bernay said her son had been asked to fill out a "first choice, second choice" selection card, but had been told he would still get his first choice of academy after she talked to counselors.

"At no time did the first-come, first-serve come up in those discussions," she said at the May 17 school board meeting. "I was told students always get their first choice. My son's first choice was eSTEM Academy and his second was Encore (Academy)."

Baldwin Junior High School eighth-grader Zachary Frye wants answers, too.

"I've been a part of STEM since the fourth grade," he said. "I did not get accepted into eSTEM and I was wondering how we are going to fix the situation, and why it is first-come, first-served (to get into the academies)."

Board President Joe Begeny said overcrowded conditions on the Summit campus meant caps had to be enforced for the first time. Incoming ninth-graders were capped at 150 students per the Summit academies, based on the time stamp on their selection card.

That meant more than 100 students who had requested the Summit campus, where eSTEM and Encore are located, would be assigned to the Livingston campus instead, to attend either BELL or (HS)2 Academy.

eSTEM Academy includes pathways in science, technology, engineering and math; Encore's pathways include art, design, communication and the performing arts; BELL Academy is for students interested in business, education, leadership and law, and (HS)2 Academy includes medical, health and sciences pathways.

The district recently announced a wait-list for Summit. First priority would be given to eighth-graders who have siblings attending the Summit campus; next are eighth-graders who don't have siblings on the campus, then ninth- through 12th-graders moving to the district and enrolling for the first time.

Last priority on the wait list would be open enrollment students from other school districts. Learn more about the wait list at reyn.org.

Begeny said the decision to institute caps "is a short-term solution for next school year." He said when the high school academies were first created, caps were established, but not enforced.

This year, however, 72 percent of eighth-graders chose the Summit campus over the Livingston campus, which meant a potential enrollment of more than 1,400 students at Summit, at least 200 students over capacity.

The Livingston campus enrollment is at about 766 students, with a capacity of 1,000.

Begeny said school board members are working on a long-term solution.

"We will do everything in our power to make it equitable for families as we move forward," he said.

"It's unfortunate that this (eighth-grade) class is the one that has to deal with this, and we will do everything we can to make amends."

Bernay said she didn't like her son's class becoming "the guinea pig.

"Someone should have known that this class was bigger than most," she said. "I felt blindsided when we were given three viable options, but those were not followed."

Before the May 1 decision, parents were asked to complete surveys and attend two public forums that offered three options to ease overcrowding: place modular classrooms at Summit, move eSTEM Academy to the Livingston campus to make Livingston a dedicated STEM school, or house freshmen and sophomores at Summit Road and juniors and seniors at Livingston.

District leaders instead instituted attendance caps at Summit.

Bernay said she wants to know soon how her son will be able to request a switch to Summit before his sophomore year.

Begeny said school board members would be able to answer that hopefully by the end of this year.