Understanding School Choice and Out-of-Zone
With Florida becoming the nation’s leader for educational options, it is important our community understands the wide range of choices parents have within our A-rated Collier County Public Schools (CCPS). As of April 1, we have already approved 1,811 Parental Choice applications for the upcoming School Year 2023-24. There is a lot to know about this opportunity for the 50+ traditional public schools that we operate in our local school district. Simply put, students may attend school in the geographic zone where they live; however, parents have choices!
Think of CCPS Parental Choice in two categories: Out-of-Zone and School Choice. Out-of-Zone requests are for parents with documented needs or hardships as explained in School Board Policy 5120. (To read any policy in its entirety, visit the School Board section within the district website.) Staff use board policy to consider many provisions. Maybe you want your child to attend school close to where you work because of supervision concerns before or after school. We also take continuity of learning into consideration. For example, provisions exist for students to attend school in the neighborhood where they will soon live after a home sale closes or new construction wraps up. Additionally, if a family moves during the student's junior or senior year of high school, we allow the student to finish the junior and/or senior year to graduate with his/her cohort. CCPS is known for its Exceptional Student Education (ESE) opportunities; therefore, the school assignment of those children may be on a basis other than a geographic zone. If a child is a sibling of a student with disabilities, then the parents may request Out-of-Zone for both children to attend the same school. Out-of-Zone is considered first, then it’s on to the next round of Parental Choice.
School Choice requests are for parents or legal guardians exercising Parental Choice without respect to or limitations upon their reasons. Approvals are based on school capacity and class-size restrictions. Consider when applying, a school is no longer open for School Choice once the campus reaches 95% of its capacity. Within the Registration section of the district website, we show—by grade level—which schools have available capacity.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of the Parental Choice Priority Window, usually during the first part of the new year. During this year’s Priority Window from January 11 through February 19, CCPS approved 97% of Out-of-Zone requests for elementary students. Our staff members in Student Registration have also been intentional about giving parents advance notice so they have additional time to make the right educational choice for their family. For high school and middle school, initial selections were made during the week of February 20, a month earlier than last year. Notices for elementary parents came out in March, two months earlier than the previous year. This year, we listened to parent feedback and opened an additional 200 Parental Choice seats at the middle and high school levels.
Once Out-of-Zone applications have been approved, School Choice applications submitted during the Priority Window will be considered for a lottery, pending remaining space available at schools.
June 30 is the last day to apply for Parental Choice for the upcoming school year. Applications may be submitted online and are found within the Student Registration section of the district website (www.collierschools.com/registration). Scan the QR on this page to go directly to CCPS Student Registration. Who doesn’t like choices and convenience!