Update: Metco’s board Monday night voted to make a change in its selection process but did not announce any details. Metco will make an announcement, an official said, after the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reviews approves the board’s action.

Augustina Eigbe has lived in Boston for 15 years and says she’s spent a lot of time looking for the best education options for her three children. The 47-year-old mental health counselor is proud to have secured a spot for one of her children in a popular charter school. Her other child of school age goes to a public school in Boston.

Last year, Eigbe was surprised to learn about a decades-old program that sends more than 3,000 children of color from Boston to public schools in the suburbs, where participants have been shown to be more likely to graduate and go to college than their peers in Boston schools.

“Without someone telling you, you wouldn’t know about it,” Eigbe said of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity or Metco. “It’s secretive.”

Even as it has relied on word of mouth, Metco has never had trouble attracting applicants. Metco has a waitlist of 15,000 children, many of them infants and toddlers. Metco’s new leaders are moving to change what they call an outdated application process that they say benefits well-connected parents who sign up soon after their children are born. Moving to a lottery system — rather than a first-come, first-served waitlist — would be fairer, they say.

Metco’s board voted Monday night on three options that would eventually transition all Metco applicants to an online application and randomized lottery selection process. Currently, parents submit paper applications at the nonprofit's office near the Roxbury-Jamaica Plain line. Under the proposed changes, Metco would only accept new applications in October, November and December for the upcoming school year.

“We want to be truly representative of today’s Boston community, which is very different than in the 1960s,” said Milagros "Milly" Arbaje-Thomas, Metco's CEO.

A state law created and funded Metco in 1966 during the school desegregation movement, after black families boycotted Boston Public Schools. Since its start, the majority of participants have been African American, even as Boston’s demographics have shifted. During the 2013-2014 school year, the most recent information available from the state, three-quarters of Metco students were black, compared to 36 percent in Boston Public Schools. Latino students that year made up nearly 40 percent of Boston’s school population, but only about 19 percent of Metco participants.

Arbaje-Thomas says children from Vietnamese, Haitian, Cape Verdean and African immigrant families have also been underrepresented.

“There are people of color in Boston who are disconnected from the Metco program because they don’t have a family member or friend who’s done it. We have done zero advertising,” Arbaje-Thomas said. By changing the application process, she said Metco can target underrepresented demographic groups.

Eigbe, who is originally from Nigeria, learned about the program last year from a Nigerian friend at her church. Eigbe signed up her three children, ages 13, 11 and 4, in February, putting them low on the waitlist. Changing to a lottery system would likely give her children better odds of securing a seat in one of the 33 Metco districts in the suburbs. Those districts accept around 300 new students from Boston per year. Many of those seats are in kindergarten classrooms.

“That sounds more fair,” Eigbe said of plans to move to a lottery.

Metco’s board voted Monday evening on three options. One option would put all applicants into a lottery this fall, including families on the waitlist. The second option would honor the waitlist for one year, and also hold a lottery for any remaining seats. The third option is similar to option two, but would honor the waitlist as long as there are eligible children on it. All of the options would enroll children for the school year beginning in 2020.

Parents already involved in Metco questioned changing the program. At a community meeting last month, dozens of parents spoke against making any change. Many argued that the in-person application process weeds out complacent parents who they said wouldn’t have the determination to put their child on a bus early in the morning.

“It doesn't sound like you'll get committed parents, because you're making everything so easy,” Latarsha Williams, a former Metco student and current parent said.

Others were worried they’d lose out in a new system.

“I need to know,” Kimbra Dennis said. “Are my two babies in jeopardy? Or do they have a chance to have that same opportunity they had last year?"

Dennis referred to her children on the waitlist. Metco students currently enrolled would retain their spots under any of the three options for changes.

Our coverage of K through 12 education is made possible with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.