People have different criteria when it comes to choosing where to live. For many parents, school district makes a huge difference. In Wisconsin, there are certain inflexible rules that apply to where public school students may attend school. School districts are geographically drawn, and students attend the district within whose boundaries they live.
Once a year, for three weeks in February, parents may apply for their children to attend school for free in a different public school district. This practice, Open Enrollment, is the only chance for a year to change school districts without physically moving.
Parents may apply for admission to up to three school districts for their children. These applications are not guaranteed to be approved. If the application is approved, the parents are not required to enroll their children in that school district. What you are applying for is the right to enroll your child, and if accepted, you will have some time to decide if this is what you want to do.
If you are planning a move, that would put you geographically in a new school district, but you want your children to stay in the school district in which you currently reside, you can apply for open enrollment now as if you had already moved. If you are unsure of where you will be moving to, you can apply in the fall for a tution fee waiver. A tuition fee waiver is temporary, and you must then apply for open enrollment as soon as possible afterward (February of 2011 will be the next chance).
Virtual schools operated by public school systems (like the virtual middle school and virtual high school here in Monroe) also must follow open enrollment rules. If you wish for your child to attend a public virutal school, you must get your open enrollment application in right away.
The deadline for open enrollment applications to be received is 4 pm on February 19, this week Friday. You can download an application from the DPI website. There are also links to to answer questions you may have about open enrollment and a telephone number you can call with questions.
One caveat about open enrollment: school districts are not required to provide transportation for open enrollment students. If you do decide to persue this for your family, make sure you are willing to transport you children yourself.