Your Choice: The ABCs of Open Enrollment
As a parent, you have a choice in all sorts of things: what to serve your family for dinner, when your kids go to bed, what company gets the distinct honor of being your wireless service provider. Do you know that you also have a choice in where your child receives his or her public school education?
Colorado Springs School District 11 - and all of Colorado - offer Choice Open Enrollment, a program that allows parents and students to apply for enrollment at a school that isn't their neighborhood school. As long as there is capacity at the families' school of choice and the parents can transport their child to that school, then the student may enroll.
"This is a great benefit to parents," says Devra Ashby, public information officer for Colorado Springs School District 11. "Families are not restricted to a particular school. They have a lot of different options at their fingertips."
The freedom to explore beyond a neighborhood school can be particularly valuable for a student with deep interest in a particular subject or one who may flourish with a particular curriculum or teaching approach.
The Choice process offers parents the sort of flexibility that used to be unimaginable in the world of public schools. Thanks to Choice, Ashby says, more schools now offer more options. Among the intriguing offerings at D-11 high schools: robotics, aerospace engineering, Chinese, interior design and computer integrated manufacturing. Middle school programs include academics, career and art offerings, plus special clubs such as science fair, "Battle of the Books" and outdoor adventure.
So if, say, you would like to enroll your student in a school that offers classes focusing on aerospace, you can "Choice" your student into Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy, a middle school offering space-related classes and real world experiences. A parent may be attracted to a school because it caters more to their son's or daughter's learning style. Some parents may place a student at particular school because it's a little closer to their place of work, making the commute just a little easier.
This year's Choice Open Enrollment window is from November 3, 2014 to February 13, 2015. Interested parents can learn more about offerings at all D-11 high schools, middle schools and elementary schools and fill out an application, by visiting D11.org. Look for the Choice icon on the left side of the screen.
While Choice is not explicitly limited to the enrollment window, some schools fill up faster than others. Ashby recommends that parents do their research and fill out an application early.
And make plans to visit schools that interest you and your child. "Come out and see what the school is all about," says Ashby. "You'll get a gut feeling if the school is the right place for your student." School principals will be happy to answer questions, she says, "So you'll have all the answers to make the best decision for your student."