The Anchorage School District's online zone exemption and lottery is available on the district's website. The lottery system started on January 1, 2018, and will run through March 22, 2018.

Applications will be taken up to 5 p.m. on the 22 and the lottery process itself follows on March 23. Until four years ago the school district conducted the lottery process by hand.

"Prior to the online lottery process, each individual school would go through a paper process," ASD Elementary Education Senior Director Glen Nielson said. "There was a book with multiple pages in it and it was very complex. So what would happen is you'd have a lot of variants between school to school."

The new online system makes the process of placing hundreds of students out of the thousands of applicants a lot easier.

"Now, with this online process, I can set the time for the lottery to happen," Nielson said. "I can set the day and the year and once that is done, I select all the schools included and all the grade levels, then I hit the lottery button. The little wheel on the screen spins and in about an hour, it's done, and students are selected totally at random by the system."

Parents can find the online application on the ASD website or by clicking on the here.

Before applying for schools out of your current neighborhood, parents who have been through the process before recommend doing a lot of research on the schools you are targeting.

"Get involved and research all the schools you can," Chugach Optional parent Paul Provencio said. "Then, if you even think you want to get into that school, put your lottery application in for each of those schools. You want to give yourself opportunities because you may not get in the one you want."

Northern Lights ABC is a popular school that will likely see 100 to 150 students stay on the waiting list after the lottery selects the next 75 kindergartners. Chugach Optional and Aquarian Charter School are two other popular choices.

"The lottery time is really exciting for families," Clare Hill, principal at Chugach Optional, said. "We have hundreds of families tour our building and those tours around the district happen in February. Our wait list is about 800 kids. The key time to get in is kindergarten because we don't have a lot of movement once people get in unless they move out of state."

It's an exciting time and busy time for families worried about getting in through the districts random draw computer system.

"Each year we get about 200 to 300 applicants," Lucas Saltzman, principal at Aquarian Charter School, said. "Most are for the kindergarten lottery. We start doing tours next week but also run through February. From the 200 to 300 applicants we take 60 students."

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