Schools' Open Enrollment Begins in February and Ends in April

Katie Larson, design by Serena Wagner

It’s that time of the year: Open enrollment season for the 20-18 school year! Open enrollment is an inter-district public school program that allows parents to apply for their children to attend any public school outside of the district they reside in. Starting Monday, Feb. 6, at midnight and ending Friday, April 28, at 4pm sharp, any student in the state can choose the school district he or she wants to learn and grow in. In order to qualify for the lottery associated with open enrollment, here are a few tips on how to prepare for the strict deadline:

1. Fill out the open enrollment application. Parents and students can apply to up to three public schools of choice. According to the Department of Public Instruction, the online form is preferred; however, there is a paper form available if you have limited access to a computer.

2. Submit the form online or mail it on time. The DPI warns any application received after 4pm on April 28 may not be processed. After all, there was a three-month application period.

3. Know the basic rules. To be eligible to attend any 4K program within the state, students applying must be 4 years old by Sept. 1 the following year. Additionally, the city of residency must offer a program equal to that of the nonresident school district.

4. Transportation is a must! By law, the nonresident school district does not need to provide transportation to and from school unless stated in your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Low-income parents may be eligible for transportation reimbursement through the DPI.

5. Wait for an answer. Nonresident school districts mail the notices of approval or denial by the second week in June. If a student is approved, the school district sends information on the specific school or program that accepted the student. If denied, parents must appeal the denial within 30 days of receiving the notice.

6. Accept the application first, then celebrate! Acceptance letters must be sent to the nonresident school districts by the end of June as a way to notify them that the student accepts that open enrollment spot. If this doesn’t happen, the student could lose the spot, ultimately resulting in a lot of tears.

7. Keep trying. Although it may be tough when not selected at first, the lottery system helps create fairness in the selection process. Don’t despair. Each school creates a waiting list for students who are not selected through the lottery, meaning your student’s name could be called to attend as the year progresses.

SIDE NOTES

• Find the open enrollment application for or details on how to qualify for transportation reimbursement by going to dpi.wi.gov/open-enrollment/applications.

• Open enrollment for the Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School is open between September and Feb. 1 for Eau Claire school district residents. Fill the application out online or in paper. Residents who submit applications will be notified within two weeks after the lottery is performed. The lottery selection for nonresident students will follow the open enrollment timelines stated in the article.

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