The Ultimate Guide to a Public School Transfer (Open Enrollment)

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: July 27, 2021

Tens of millions of kids across America attend traditional public schools across all 50 states. Maybe you went to one, or maybe your child attends a traditional public school. Perhaps you even decided to rent or buy a home or apartment because you wanted your child to attend the traditional public school nearby. But what if you want to make a public school transfer?

Most students who attend traditional public schools are assigned to attend these schools by school district officials – based on school boundary maps and zoning. These schools are tuition-free and must accept all students, regardless of their previous academic performance or special learning needs.

But did you know that traditional public schools can also be schools of choice? You might just be able to choose a traditional public school outside of your neighborhood or zone, and still pay no tuition! As you’ll see below, most states have rules allowing for school transfers, boundary exceptions, or some type of public school choice, which is often referred to as open enrollment. These rules make it possible for parents to choose a great public school for them, whether it’s in their neighborhood or across town!

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What is Public School Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is an important form of public school choice. It allows parents to choose public schools outside of their assigned neighborhood. That way, families can choose the best free public school for their child, even if it’s not in their zip code.

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Each state has different open enrollment laws for public schools. As of 2019, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow students to attend other traditional public schools within their assigned district, called intradistrict enrollment. Meanwhile, 44 states and the District of Columbia allow students to attend public schools outside their district—interdistrict enrollment. (Some states allow both options.)

So, if open enrollment is available to you, you can take advantage of it by visiting multiple schools and discovering which is the best school of choice for your family. You can use our free Schools Near Me tool to find various public schools to consider. After all, public schools aren’t all the same. They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you.  

Traditional public school students work on robotics

Common Questions about Traditional Public Schools

Will all public schools be fully open in the fall of 2021?

Because of the coronavirus, public school reopening plans look vastly different across America. You will want to connect with your local district to learn about their plans to safely reopen.

How many public school districts are in the U.S.? And, how many public school teachers are there?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are more than 13,500 public school districts in the U.S. And, there are about 3.7 million teachers in public schools.

What public school am I zoned for?

Often, your zip code determines what school district you are in. If you are unsure, you can search for your school district. Once you know your district, you can visit the district website to find your assigned school. Don’t forget that there may be open enrollment options that allow you to attend any school in the district, or even schools outside of the district!

Coyote Springs Elementary School students make silly faces

How are public schools managed?

Traditional public schools are run by local school districts. These school districts are usually overseen by elected school boards. All public schools must follow education laws in the state. Each state has its own teacher certification policies. Usually, all or most teachers in public schools must be certified by the state to teach.

How much does public school cost?

Traditional public schools don’t charge tuition or entrance fees. The costs for public schools are paid by taxpayers in the form of local, state, and federal taxes. You can search for what your public school spends at Project Nickel. You can also explore the average per-pupil spending in your state’s public schools below.

How much is a public school teacher salary?

As of the 2019-2020 school year, the average public school teacher salary was about $63,645.

Public Schools of Choice in Your State

Every state has traditional public schools, but does your state offer open enrollment, which allows you to choose schools outside your neighborhood, zone, or district? Check out your state’s parent guide or scroll below to learn whether you can use open enrollment to make a public school transfer. You can also contact your local district to learn more.

In 9 states parents may select any traditional public school for their child, in any school district.

In 18 states, there are at least some situations where schools are required to participate in open enrollment. For example, some states guarantee open enrollment to families who wish to transfer out of a low-performing school, or families who live too far from their assigned school. In these states, parents meeting certain requirements are guaranteed choice. Open enrollment may be optional in other cases.

An additional 19 states have allowed districts and schools to decide whether to participate in open enrollment. In these cases, families must request and receive school district approval to use open enrollment.

Traditional public school NSCW

Source: Education Commission of the States, 2019
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Washington, D.C.
 

 

Alabama:

In most states, families have some “open enrollment” options for public school, but Alabama does not offer open enrollment. What this means is that Alabama does not allow parents to choose traditional public schools outside of the schools assigned to their children by their districts. If you choose a traditional public school, it will likely need to be the school assigned by your district.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Alabama’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools: $10,007.

Alaska:

Alaska has limited open enrollment laws for public schools. What this means is that parents of students who are assigned to a particular neighborhood school may in some cases be able to transfer their children to another school in their district. In other cases, children may be required to attend the school assigned to them by their district. Contact your school district to learn more.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Alaska’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Alaska public schools: $18,394.

Arizona:

Arizona has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Arizona, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family.

Each district’s open enrollment policies include transportation provisions. These always include transportation up to 20 miles each way, for students with a disability or IEP, and can include other students, too.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Arizona’s Department of Education and Office of the Governor – School Choice

Average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools: $8,625

We’re about educating every kid. We’re a co-teaching school. We’re an inclusive school. All of our kids get the opportunity, third through sixth grade, to be gifted and talented or what we would refer to as enriched. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions that for a good education you have to skim the top and only have those kids attend the schools. – Candice Stump, Coyote Springs Elementary School, Arizona

Arkansas:

In Arkansas, the state has limited open enrollment laws. “Open enrollment” refers to whether parents are allowed to send their child to any public school, regardless of where it is located. In Arkansas, there are some limits on open enrollment, but families may be able to transfer to a public school of choice beyond their neighborhood school. In particular, Arkansas families can use open enrollment to transfer from a public school in academic distress to a public school that is not in academic distress. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your local district.

Generally, transportation is not covered by the school you use open enrollment to select, unless that school district is under facilities distress or a special agreement is made between the receiving and sending districts.

Find out more: Arkansas’ Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Arkansas public schools: $10,388

California:

In California, parents of students assigned to low-performing schools may be able to transfer their children to another school based on the state’s limited open enrollment laws. School districts in California can also set their own open enrollment policies, so parents can check with their local district to learn more.

Parents can request that the school they select through open enrollment provides transportation assistance.

Find out more about public schools in your state: California’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in California public schools: $14,035

Colorado:

Colorado has unrestricted open enrollment for public schools. What this means is that you may be able to send your child to any public school in Colorado, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this important option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Colorado’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Colorado: $11,030

Connecticut:

Connecticut has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that parents in some Connecticut cities may be able to choose traditional public schools outside of their districts. This applies in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London, and may apply in other cities If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your local district for more information. If you live in an area of Connecticut with open enrollment, you can take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family.

Local boards of education decide whether to provide transportation for students participating in open enrollment.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Connecticut’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Connecticut: $21,310

Delaware:

Delaware has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Delaware, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this valuable option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Parents are responsible for transportation of students participating in open enrollment.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Delaware’s Department of Education

Families interested in submitting choice applications for participating public school districts in Delaware can do so online at SchoolChoiceDE.

Average per-pupil spending in Delaware: $16,315

Florida:

Florida has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Florida, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. Generally, parents are responsible for transportation of students participating in open enrollment.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Florida’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Florida: $9,645

Georgia:

Georgia has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that Georgia families can send their child to any public school within their school district. In some cases, families can also consider public schools outside their school district; contact your local school district to learn more. Parents are responsible for transportation of students participating in open enrollment.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Georgia’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Georgia: $11,228

Hawaii:

In Hawaii, the school district system is divided into 15 “complex areas.” Hawaii parents should contact their district about its open enrollment policies, and whether they can consider schools outside their assigned area.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Hawaii’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Hawaii: $16,132

Idaho:

Idaho has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Idaho regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this valuable option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Parents are responsible for transportation of students participating in open enrollment.

Through the state’s Advanced Opportunities program, every public school student in Idaho is allocated $4,125 to use in grades 7-12. These funds can be used for dual credits, Advanced Placement Exam fees, professional certifications, workforce training, or other qualified expenses.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Idaho’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Idaho: $7,985

Illinois:

Illinois has fairly flexible open enrollment laws. In many cases, you can visit multiple schools and select the one best for you. Illinois parents may be able to choose any traditional public school within their district but should check with their local district to find out more.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Illinois’ Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Illinois: $16,227

Indiana:

Each state has its own open enrollment rules. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. In Indiana, parents have restricted open enrollment; so, students can request to transfer to any public school of choice, provided the school has a policy allowing for open enrollment. In particular, parents can request that their child transfer to another district if there are crowded conditions at their current school or if another school offers curriculum important to their child’s vocational aspirations. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your local district to learn more.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Indiana’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Indiana: $10,397

Iowa:

Iowa has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. Based on Iowa’s recently-expanded laws, families can apply to any traditional public school, even one in another district. Some students participating in open enrollment, including those meeting certain income guidelines, are provided transportation to their public school of choice by their assigned district.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Iowa’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Iowa: $11,907 

Kansas:

Some school districts in Kansas may allow open enrollment. Since districts set their own open enrollment policies in Kansas, parents should check with their local school district for more information. When a student participates in open enrollment, the two school districts must work out a transportation plan to share costs amongst themselves.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Kansas Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Kansas: $11,926 

Kentucky:

Kentucky has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that in many cases you can choose to send your child to a public school in your district other than the one you have been assigned. In some cases, you may be able to choose a public school in another district. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your local district to learn more.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Kentucky’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Kentucky: $11,291

Louisiana:

In most cases in Louisiana, each district decides whether it will participate in open enrollment. So, Louisiana parents should check with their local school district if they wish to participate in open enrollment. The state only requires districts to offer open enrollment in certain circumstances, such as when students wish to transfer from a school in academic distress to a school that is not in academic distress.

Students participating in open enrollment are provided transportation by their public school of choice if that school is closer to the student’s residence than their assigned school.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Louisiana’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Louisiana: $11,755

Maine:

Maine has restricted open enrollment for public school. In Maine, the state allows districts to set their own open enrollment policies. So, Maine parents should check with their district if they would like to transfer their child to a different public school. If the reason for a family participating in open enrollment in another district is because their district does not offer a school, their district provides transportation. In other situations, the parents are responsible for transportation.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Maine’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Maine: $14,614

Maryland:

Most states have some form of open enrollment. Unfortunately, Maryland does not currently have public open enrollment at this time.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Maryland’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Maryland: $15,148

Massachusetts:

In Massachusetts, each district decides whether it will participate in open enrollment. If you are interested in transferring your child to a different public school than you are assigned, you should talk to your local school district to learn whether it is available for you. Parents are generally responsible for transportation when their student is participating in open enrollment, unless the transfer addresses racial imbalances or the student qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Massachusetts’ Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Massachusetts: $17,748

Michigan:

Some states have unrestricted open enrollment, which means that you can send your child to any public school, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. In Michigan, there is restricted open enrollment. Depending on the district and their school’s performance, parents may have the option to transfer their child to a different public school, and they are responsible for transporting their child to that school.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Michigan’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Michigan: $12,756

Minnesota:

Minnesota offers some open enrollment, which refers to whether a parent can choose to send their child to a public school other than their assigned district school. Parents can choose a traditional public school outside of their district based on the state’s open enrollment laws, and also may be able to choose another school within their district, depending on their local school board. Since no two public schools are exactly the same, open enrollment can valuably extend a family’s educational options and help them find the best match for their child In most transfers to schools in a different district, the receiving school district provides transportation once the student is within the district border, and can reimburse income-eligible students for their travel there.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Minnesota’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Minnesota: $13,387

Mississippi:

In Mississippi, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies; the state only requires districts to offer open enrollment if parents live 30 miles away from their child’s assigned school. When an agreement between school districts is made allowing a student to participate in open enrollment, it must include transportation provisions.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Mississippi’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Mississippi: $9,284

Missouri:

In Missouri, parents have restricted open enrollment. Some Missouri parents, such as those who live in school districts that have lost state accreditation, may be able to choose any traditional public school in another district for their child. In some cases, including when transferring from a school that is unaccredited, the district provides transportation.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Missouri’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Missouri: $11,200

Montana:

In Montana, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies; the state only requires districts to offer open enrollment if parents live too far from their child’s assigned school. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can choose to send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Montana parents should check with their local school district if they wish to participate in open enrollment. When an agreement between school districts is made allowing a student to participate in open enrollment, it includes transportation provisions.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Montana’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Montana: $11,988

Nebraska:

Nebraska has unrestricted open enrollment for public schools. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school of choice in Nebraska, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family.

Transportation is typically the responsibility of the parents or provided by the receiving district for a fee unless the student is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, part of a diversity focus program, or a student with learning disabilities, in which case transportation is typically free.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Nebraska’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Nebraska: $12,783

Nevada:

Each state has its own open enrollment policies. In Nevada, each district can set its own open enrollment policies. So, Nevada parents should check with their local district if they would like to transfer their child. If they choose to participate in open enrollment, the school to which they were assigned will cover transportation costs.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Nevada’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Nevada: $9,344

New Hampshire:

In New Hampshire, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. New Hampshire parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. If the public school of choice is within the same district, transportation is provided. If it is in a different school district, parents are responsible for transportation.

Find out more about public schools in your state: New Hampshire’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in New Hampshire: $17,462

New Jersey:

In New Jersey, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. New Jersey parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option for them. For students living farther than 2 or 2.5 miles from their public school of choice but closer than 20 miles, the sending district is responsible for transporting the child to their new school.

Find out more about public schools in your state: New Jersey’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in New Jersey: $20,512

New Mexico:

New Mexico has restricted open enrollment. In New Mexico, parents who live near low-performing schools may transfer their children to another school inside or outside their district. Parents in other circumstances should check with their local school district. If a student participating in open enrollment is choosing a different school within the same district, the district will provide transportation or reimburse parents’ costs. If the family selects a school in a different school district, parents are responsible for transportation.

Find out more about public schools in your state: New Mexico’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in New Mexico: $10,177

New York:

In New York, each district decides whether it will participate in open enrollment. Open enrollment is a valuable choice that refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located or what their zip code is. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, check with your local school district to see if this is available.

Find out more about public schools in your state: New York Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in New York: $25,139

North Carolina:

Most states have some form of open enrollment, which refers to whether parents can send their child to a public school other than their assigned school. Unfortunately, North Carolina does not currently have open enrollment for public schools.

Find out more about public schools in your state: North Carolina’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in North Carolina: $9,857

North Dakota:

In North Dakota, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. North Dakota parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option.

Find out more about public schools in your state: North Dakota Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in North Dakota: $14,004

Ohio:

Ohio has restricted open enrollment for public school. Based on Ohio’s laws, a parent may or may not be able to choose a traditional public school in another district. Check with your local school district if you wish to participate in open enrollment. In most cases, parents are responsible for transportation to the new public school of choice, or at least for getting their student to a regular bus stop along the school’s route. Low-income families or those participating in a court-approved desegregation plan may be reimbursed for transportation to that bus stop or provided transportation directly, respectively.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Ohio Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Ohio: $13,538

Oklahoma:

In Oklahoma, students can request a transfer to a school in any district, regardless of where they live. The state does allow districts to set capacity limits for transfer students. If their transfer request is denied, parents can appeal to the local school board to review the case.

If parents request it, their children can be transported by the public school of choice from a stop within that school’s school district, provided parents transport them to the district route. Alternatively, the assigned school district can create an agreement with the new school district to cooperate on transportation.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Oklahoma’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma: $9,323

Oregon:

Unfortunately, Oregon does not currently have open enrollment for public schools. If you choose a traditional public school, it will most likely need to be the school assigned by your district.

The state of Oregon did establish temporary open enrollment between school districts in 2012 to support school choice, but the policy ended in 2019. While open enrollment is not available to Oregon families, they may still request an interdistrict transfer.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Oregon’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Oregon: $12,450

Pennsylvania:

In Pennsylvania, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Pennsylvania parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Pennsylvania’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania: $16,864

Rhode Island:

In Rhode Island, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. Rhode Island parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. In some cases, the state provides transportation for students who attend a school outside their city or town.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Rhode Island’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Rhode Island: $16,750

South Carolina:

In South Carolina, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. South Carolina parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option.

Find out more about public schools in your state: South Carolina’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in South Carolina: $11,140

South Dakota:

South Dakota has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school of choice in South Dakota, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Generally, parents are responsible for their children’s transportation to a school they’ve selected through open enrollment, but districts can choose to cooperate to provide transportation.

Find out more about public schools in your state: South Dakota’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in South Dakota: $10,139

Tennessee:

In Tennessee, a bill passed in spring 2021 will require all school districts to create open enrollment policies by fall 2022. Parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to explore their options.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Tennessee’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Tennessee: $9,868

Texas:

In Texas, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. Parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. If students are eligible for the Texas Public Education Grant, their transportation costs will be covered by the previously assigned schools.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Texas’ Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Texas: $9,827

There’s one thing I always tell my kids and it’s something that I’m very passionate about. It doesn’t matter what you have, what you don’t have, the color of your skin, what language you speak, where you came from… You can be excellent. That’s what school choice for me means. That students have the opportunity, despite their circumstances on the outside, to be excellent once they walk through these doors. – David Knittle, Burbank Middle School, Texas

Utah:

Utah has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Utah, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. Generally, parents are responsible for transportation to the public school of their choice or to a stop on the district’s bus route. In some cases, the previously assigned school will provide transportation if they are trying to relieve overcrowding.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Utah’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Utah: $8,014

Parents, educators, and community members can find education-related data about public schools (such as student proficiency and student growth rates) at Utah State Board of Education’s Data Gateway.

Vermont:

Vermont has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Vermont, regardless of where you live or where the school is located.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Vermont’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Vermont: $20,315

Virginia:

In Virginia, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. Parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school should contact their local school district to see if this is possible.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Virginia’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Virginia: $12,641

Washington:

Washington has restricted open enrollment for public school. Based on Washington’s laws, a parent may or may not be able to choose a traditional public school in another district. Check with your local school district if you wish to participate in open enrollment.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Washington’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Washington: $14,223

West Virginia:

In West Virginia, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Open enrollment is an important way that parents have access to a broader variety of public schools; if you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your school district to learn if this is an option available to you.

Find out more about public schools in your state: West Virginia Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in West Virginia: $12,010

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin has restricted open enrollment for public school. Based on Wisconsin’s laws, a parent may or may not be able to choose a traditional public school in another district. In some cases, families can participate in open enrollment within a district as well. Check with your local school district if you wish to participate in open enrollment. Generally, parents are responsible for transporting their child to their public school of choice. But, the school must provide it if a student has a disability. Low-income parents may apply for state reimbursement for transportation costs. Districts are allowed to collaborate to provide transportation, as well.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Wisconsin’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin: $12,598

Wyoming:

In Wyoming, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. Parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option.

Find out more about public schools in your state: Wyoming’s Department of Education

Average per-pupil spending in Wyoming: $16,304

Washington, D.C.

Individual schools can decide to participate in “open enrollment” in the District of Columbia. What this means is that parents can apply to traditional public schools outside of the schools assigned to them. D.C. uses a lottery system called My School DC. Families can apply to up to 12 schools out of nearly all of D.C.’s traditional public schools and public charter schools through the common lottery application. The lottery system then matches open seats with applicants. Nearly three-quarters of students in the district attend a school other than their neighborhood school.

Find out more about public schools in D.C. at the D.C. State Board of Education.

Shareable Facts about Public Schools of Choice

traditional public schoo infographic
Sources: The School Choice Roadmap, by Andrew Campanella

Download and share the graphic of our guide to traditional public school.

Traditional public school Open Enrollment in USA 2020

Traditional Public Schools Celebrate Choice

Check out these stories from our archives about outstanding traditional public schools:

Burbank Middle School students stand in school hallway

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Teachers in School Choice Week scarves take selfie

"From the time students come to our campus, they know that they are ambassadors..."

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The information in this guide to public school transfer is designed to help families who are considering public schooling in their decision-making process. Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and at home – so they can choose the right fit for their child. Read more guides about choosing other types of schools.

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