Wisconsin’s public school open enrollment application period runs from Feb. 3 to April 30 for the 2014-15 school year, allowing parents an opportunity to send their children to any public school district in the state.
Traditionally, children in Wisconsin are assigned to public school districts based on the location of their parents’ home. The open enrollment application period is the only tuition-free opportunity for most parents to apply for their children to attend a public school in a school district other than the one in which they live.
“Wisconsin is among a number of states nationwide that offer public school open enrollment across school districts. The state’s long-running program supports parental involvement and shared responsibility for educating children,” state superintendent Tony Evers said.
The state’s open enrollment program is an inter-district choice program that began in the 1998-99 school year. During the first years of the program, the application window was three weeks. With legislation adopted for the 2012-13 school year, the application window expanded to three months.
According to the Education Commission of the States, Wisconsin is among 21 states with inter-district open enrollment. Under the full-time public school open enrollment program, parents must apply during the three-month application period to the school district they wish their children to attend. Online application is encouraged.
Application deadlines are firm. Early and late applications are not accepted. Districts will notify parents by June 6 whether their open enrollment applications have been approved or denied.
Under the current open enrollment law, transportation, in most circumstances, is the responsibility of the parent. However, some school districts may provide partial transportation. Parents with questions should call the nonresident school district office to find out if any transportation will be provided. Reimbursement of a portion of transportation costs is available for families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals based on federal income guidelines.
The Department of Public Instruction provides the following guidance for parents who wish to apply for open enrollment.
• Parents are urged to apply online directly from the open enrollment website sms.dpi.wi.gov/sms_psctoc. The online application will be available from midnight Feb. 3 to 4 p.m. April 30.
• Paper applications can be obtained from the DPI or any public school district. Paper application forms must be received by the nonresident school district no earlier than Feb. 3 and no later than 4 p.m. April 30. A postmark for paper forms will not meet the requirement.
• Parents may submit applications to up to three nonresident school districts for each child during the open enrollment application period.
• Forms must be filled out completely and accurately. Contact the local school district office or the DPI if assistance is needed in completing the application.
• Parents may request enrollment in a specific school or program in the nonresident school district; however, enrollment in the requested school or program is subject to space and other limitations and is not guaranteed.
• Most students who attended a nonresident school district under open enrollment last year are not required to reapply for the 2014-15 school year. However, if the student will be entering middle school, junior high school, or high school in the 2014-15 school year, parents should call the nonresident school district to find out if reapplication will be required.
• Parents may apply for their children to attend 4-year-old kindergarten under open enrollment only if the resident school district also offers a 4-year-old kindergarten program for which the child is eligible.
To assist parents in submitting open enrollment applications, a directory of public school districts is available on the DPI website at dpi.wi.gov/directories.
More information is available from local school districts or from an open enrollment consultant at DPI, by calling 888-245-2732 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.