February is a time to look toward spring, hopeful that the heavy winter months are behind us, although March is still to come, and March always seems unpredictable. In Wisconsin, February also starts the public school open enrollment period. This year open enrollment runs from February 3 to April 30, 2020. This is a time when parents may explore schooling options for their children outside of their own geographic school district (except for districts involved in school voucher programs throughout the year).
In this blog I have written about open enrollment each February for the past few years, so you may wish to check the archived blogs for additional information. The best way to get accurate information about open enrollment is by going to the DPI website (listed below), and by talking to the school and school district that you may be considering. Consider that even virtual schools are included in open enrollment. Remember, also, that the school district to which you wish to enroll must accept your child; it is not automatic.
During this time many school districts hold open house sessions for families considering open enrollment. I encourage you to attend the open house sessions, take your student, meet teachers, and look around the school. If you think a particular school looks promising, ask about visiting during school hours to get the feel of the school when students are there, and have your child shadow a student for a day. Talk to other families in that district. Do your research. Selecting a school via open enrollment is similar to conducting a college search for a high school student. Gifted students may need something different from what their home school district can or will offer, and open enrollment is often a good option to meet their needs. However, it is a highly individualized decision.
The open enrollment website at DPI is given below. It includes the forms, deadlines, and other information necessary to learn about and apply for open enrollment. Also below is an example of a public virtual school’s open enrollment informational web page: Wisconsin Connections Academy, part of the Appleton Area School District. The web page will give some idea of how school districts may provide open enrollment information. In case you did not know, WI Connections Academy offers services for gifted students.
Making a decision about where your child will attend school is often a difficult one. It may take a long time to decide (making sure your child has a voice in the decision), and you may second guess yourself. This is normal. Know that many other parents have gone through the process of trying to find a school that is a good fit for their gifted student.
Open Enrollment Resources
WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Webpage for Public School Open Enrollment
WI Connections Academy, Appleton Area School District Open Enrollment Web Page
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