Office of Access and Enrollment

Open Enrollment

An open enrollment school is a neighborhood school that offers another option to parents and students who are interested in schools outside of their attendance area. Open enrollment schools have neighborhood attendance boundaries and give priority to students who live within the attendance boundary. They do not offer a magnet program, but open enrollment schools offer a wide variety of programs and activities to enrich their curriculum. In addition to enrolling attendance area students, open enrollment schools accept students from outside the attendance area, through a computerized lottery, if space is available.

Application Information

Eligibility Requirements for Open Enrollment Schools

There are no eligibility requirements for Open Enrollment schools, with the exception of the age requirement to enter kindergarten (five years old, on or before September 1st) and first grade (six years old, on or before September 1st). Note that there are exceptions to the kindergarten and first grade age requirements. See the Accelerated Placement Act for more information.).

Student Selection Process

Students are selected for available seats through a computerized lottery, which ensures that all applicants have an equal chance to be selected. (Note that tiers are NOT considered in the selection process for open enrollment schools.) The computer program randomly selects students to fill the spaces in each grade.

For Open Enrollment schools, there are three types of lotteries, conducted in the following order:

  • Sibling lottery: conducted only for students who have a brother or sister in the same household who already attends the school to which the student is applying, and who will still be enrolled in that school in the upcoming school year.
  • Staff preference lottery: Conducted only for students who are applying to a school where their parent/guardian is a member of the staff. Two seats are allocated through the staff preference lottery. These seats are filled based on space availability, after siblings are accommodated.
  • General lottery: conducted for all students not included in the sibling or staff preference lottery (tiers are not considered in the selection process for open enrollment schools).

Students who are not selected for a seat through the computerized lottery are randomly assigned a number on a waitlist.


After the available spaces in each grade are filled through the computerized lottery, waitlist numbers are randomly assigned, beginning with number 1, to the remaining students in each category. Parents of students who are selected in the lottery are given approximately three weeks to accept an offered space. After the deadline for accepting an offer, principals must fill any remaining spaces through the waiting list, beginning with number 1 and selecting students based on their category. For example, if a student was selected in the sibling lottery and the parent does not accept the space, the principal will contact the parent of the first student on the sibling waiting list for that grade to offer him/her the available space. If this student declines the offer, the principal will contact the second student on the sibling waiting list for that grade, and so on. Principals are not allowed to contact students outside of the waiting list order, and offers must be made to replace students in the same category. For instance, a principal cannot offer a space to the student who is number 1 on a waiting list and then skip the next five students to offer a space to the student who is number 6 on the list. As another example, a principal cannot attempt to fill a space declined by a student from the sibling category by offering the space to a student on the general waiting list, unless the sibling waitlist has been exhausted. (Note that when parents of waitlisted students are contacted, they will be given 48 business hours to accept or decline a seat. Be sure to include at least one telephone number on your application where you can be reached at all times.)

NOTE: If your child is currently on a waitlist from last year’s application process, and you have not yet received an offer for the current school year, you will need to reapply for the upcoming school year if you want to be considered for that year. Waitlists are not maintained from year to year.


Apply to an Open Enrollment School

Applying to open enrollment schools is easy! Just follow the directions below, and contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 or if you have any questions.

But first, please note the following:

  • The application period begins September 30, 2019, and ends December 13, 2019.
  • You have a choice of applying through the online application site, or by using a paper application. (We recommend the online site you can submit your application, receive email/text notifications, and receive and accept offers — all online!)
  • There is no testing required for open enrollment schools – students are selected via computerized lottery.
  • You will be notified in April 2020 whether or not your child received an offer from any of the schools to which you applied. If you apply online, you will receive your notification on your online account If you apply via paper application, your child’s letter will be mailed to your home address 
  • Next, see the step-by-step instructions below, for both the online process and the paper process.

Online Process

Step 1: Go to GoCPS, and click “Sign Up” at the top of the home page. You will need a CPS ID number to open an account. If you don’t have a CPS ID number, complete the CPS ID Request Form; the deadline to request a CPS ID number is November 22, 2019. If you do not request a CPS ID number by that date, you will need to submit a paper application(s). The CPS ID number will be mailed to your home address. After you receive the CPS ID, you can continue.

Step 2: Follow the instructions to enter your information and add your child(ren) to your account. Note that the account can be opened with one primary parent/guardian only. If you wish, later in the account creation process, you can add the contact information of another parent/guardian or other persons that you want to receive automated messages regarding application submission and admissions exams scheduling. However – and this is very important – the account must be opened with the name and address of the parent/guardian with whom the student resides. The address for this parent/guardian will be the address that is used for determining tiers, proximity boundaries, and attendance boundaries.

Step 3: After you successfully open an account, you will see the list of all elementary schools to which you can apply, including magnet, magnet cluster, open enrollment and Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools.

You can apply to up to 20 magnet, magnet cluster and open enrollment schools. These are identified as “Choice” schools on the application, and a counter will keep track of the number of schools that you’ve selected on your application. Note that you are not ranking these schools in any order. All magnet, magnet cluster and open enrollment schools are considered equally in separate lotteries. (As a result, it is possible for your child to receive an offer from more than one magnet, magnet cluster, or open enrollment school.)

(Note that if you are also interested in applying to Selective Enrollment Schools, you will select these schools as well. If you apply to Selective Enrollment schools, you will then be given instructions on how to rank these schools in order of your preference, and you will be instructed to schedule admissions exams for any of the schools/programs to which you’ve applied.)

Step 4: Submit your application no later than 11:59 pm on December 13, 2019. After you submit your application, you will receive an email confirmation.

Paper Process

Step 1: Starting September 30th, go to GoCPS and click ‘Elementary School’ and ‘Apply.’ Scroll down to download and print the Choice Elementary Schools application. If you do not have printer access, contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060.

Step 2: Use the School Codes accompanying the application in order to indicate the schools of your choice. You can apply to up to 20 magnet, magnet cluster, or open enrollment schools. You can list the schools in any order; you’re not ranking them in order of any preference. Be sure to sign the application.

Step 3: Submit your completed application to the Office of Access and Enrollment. Paper applications can be mailed or hand-delivered only. Paper applications must be received by the Office of Access and Enrollment no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, December 13, 2019. (Note that this is a RECEIVED BY date, not a postmarked date.) If you mail your application, we strongly recommend that you (1) send your application via registered mail so that you will have a receipt, (2) enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard or envelope, which will be mailed back to you as proof of receipt, and (3) mail your application in plenty of time to ensure that it is received by the Office of Access and Enrollment on or before the application deadline. If you do not have a receipt and your applications do not reach our office, your child will not be considered for any of the schools to which you applied. Applications received after the deadline date cannot be processed.

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, February 12, 2020