- Associated Press - Sunday, December 16, 2018

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A Fairbanks career and technical high school is changing its admissions practices in an effort to provide greater access to students.

Starting next year, Hutchison High School, which uses a lottery to select students, will no longer give extra weight to students with good grades and good attendance, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

Applicants also will no longer have to submit letters of recommendation.

Hutchison is the only public high school in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District that focuses on career and technical education though the other high schools offer career and technical education classes. It also is the only public high school in the district that selects students via lottery.

Principal Robyn Taylor said the application process was changed after receiving comments from parents and students. The school was never meant to cater to elite students, she said

“We are a public school, operating under public school funds. We are not a private school,” Taylor said. “We really want to be more transparent and give everybody equal opportunity.”

The school opened in 1973 to prepare students for construction jobs.

Taylor, who has been principal for four years, did not know why the school focused on academics and attendance when selecting students.

She said some parents are unhappy with the change because the high standards motivated students to earn a spot. But she said the existing system also was criticized.

“You’re never going to please everybody,” Taylor said.

The school has about 400 students and annually accepts about 130 new students from about 250 applicants, Taylor said.

The school begins accepting applications for the 2019-20 school year on Jan. 10.

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