Enrollment in our magnet and pre-K programs is done primarily through annual lotteries.
These lotteries are designed to ensure equitable access for all families to three of our elementary program areas: our magnet programs, our pre-K 4 program and our pre-K 3 program. This page is inteneded to provide additional information on the mechanics of the lotteries.
Please note that registration for all magnet and pre-K programs is a two-step process.
Once you are awarded a seat, you must complete the registration process to officially accept and enroll your child.
What are the lotteries?
Magnet and pre-K 4 lottery
This lottery is generally held in April, with the application window open throughout the winter and early spring. Please note that in previous years, the magnet and pre-K 4 lotteries were separate. In an effort to simplify the process for families, they will be combined beginning with the lottery held in 2021-22 to determine placement in the 2022-23 school year.
During this lottery application window, families can apply for magnet programs at any grade level (pre-K through 5) and/or for spots in any of our pre-K 4 programs (including magnet programs).
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Pre-K 3 lottery
This lottery is generally held in June, with the application window open throughout the spring.
During this lottery application window, families can apply for pre-K 3 seats at community locations throughout the city. Please note that pre-K 3 is offered only in our community-based programs.
How do the lotteries work?
Deciding your choices in the lotteries may be affected by the location and start/end times of the program or school, whether you have other school-age children, whether additional child care is offered and other personal preferences. However, certain other factors go into play in the lottery that will influence your child’s eventual assignment.
Sibling preference only applies for magnet and neighborhood schools, not community based locations.
A child with a sibling already in a school or program will have a better chance of getting into that school or program. This is called “sibling preference.” Children with sibling preference are drawn first in the lotteries. Sibling preference works only if your first-choice program is located at the elementary school your other child currently attends AND will attend in the following school year. Sibling preference will not apply if your child currently in the school or program moves up to a different school or program in the following school year.
Neighborhood preference only applies for magnet and neighborhood schools, not community based locations.
A child who lives within a half-mile of a school or program will have a better chance of getting into that school or program. This is called “neighborhood preference.” Children with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the lotteries. Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice school or program is located a half-mile from your home.
Some programs are in greater demand than others, meaning more families apply to those programs. Also, these limited seats often fill quickly with students who have sibling or neighborhood preference. This can affect your child’s chance of being assigned to your first-choice program.
For a detailed look at seats vs. applicants, you can review this Google Sheets document.
You can choose how you want the district to process the lottery applications for two or more siblings (twins, triplets, etc., or children of different ages).
You have two options:
- Link your children’s applications and have them move through the lottery process together; your children with linked applications will be assigned to a particular school or program only if they all receive spots. If a school or program does not have enough room for all your children, then none of them will be assigned there.
- Do not link your children’s applications together. Your children’s applications will move through the lottery process separately, which could result in them being assigned to different schools or programs. If you opt to not link your children’s applications, you can accept a spot in the school or program one of your children gets into, and your other child’s or children’s application(s) will have sibling preference in the waiting pool for the next available seat.
Applying outside the lottery window
Although we encourage families to enter the annual lotteries for the best chance of securing a seat for September of the upcoming school year, we accept magnet, pre-K 3 and pre-K 4 applications year-round.
For ASH, Montessori and TOAST, applications received outside the primary lottery window will be entered into an ongoing series of monthly lotteries.
For all other schools and programs (including Dual Language), applications received outside the primary lottery window are placed at the end of a waiting list in the order they are received. Please note that sibling and/or neighborhood preference do not apply to Dual Language applicants on the waiting list.