How Schools of Choice Works in Grand Rapids and Kent County

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What is Schools of Choice?

The Schools of Choice program, established by the Michigan Department of Education, allows a student to attend a school outside of his or her residential public school option. Individual districts decide the extent of their participation, and a district may opt out of the program completely if desired.

Schools of Choice Kent County

How Schools of Choice Works in Kent County

If you live in Kent County, Michigan, your local public school is a part of the Kent Intermediate School District (KISD). KISD is comprised of 20 local districts. These districts have come together to standardize the Schools of Choice program for our area by creating a universal application and common deadlines.

This is a win for parents, making it easier to understand when and where to apply if you wish to do Schools of Choice for your child(ren).

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Not All School Districts Have Open Seats

School space is the primary reason not everyone can use Schools of Choice in Kent County. Residents are placed in their home schools first. After that, if there are open seats, the school can choose to offer them to Schools of Choice students.

The number of available seats depends on the incoming class size and the district’s willingness to release those seats. Certain districts, like Byron Center, East Grand Rapids and Forest Hills, are notoriously difficult to get into using Schools of Choice.

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Student Names are Drawn by Lottery

The application period of Schools of Choice in Grand Rapids and Kent County is about a month long, from early April to early May. Please see the KISD website for the specific application period (you do not want to miss your deadline) for the upcoming school year.

Turning in your application early doesn’t get you anything other than peace of mind that you got it in on time; if the number of applicants exceeds the number of available seats in the desired school, all of the applications are put into a lottery.

Parents will receive notification of acceptance by mid-May if their student is accepted and will have until the end of May or early June to confirm that they will enroll their child in the choice district.
Waiting list families will be notified about openings and must confirm their decision to attend approximately between the end of May and the end of June.

What You Don’t Get With Schools of Choice

    • Transportation. Unless you are within your residential district and busing systems are already in place, you will need to get your child to and from each school each day.
    • Sports for High Schoolers. Schools of Choice transfers in grades 10-12 are prohibited from participating in athletics for one semester after their new enrollment begins.
    • Sibling Enrollment. If your oldest child wins a Schools of Choice lottery, be sure to check if that district/school automatically enrolls younger siblings. Some do and some don’t.

How to Apply for Schools of Choice in Kent County

In early April, the application for Kent County Schools of Choice will become available at this site.

Parents need to fill out the application and return it to their choice district by the early May deadline.

Be sure to indicate alternate school choices on the form. If your district of choice doesn’t select your application in the lottery, applications of students not selected in the lottery will be automatically forwarded to the alternate choices listed on the form and/or placed on a waiting list. (Only submit one application per student.)

Participating Schools of Choice in Kent County

Every district and school has slightly different parameters for their Schools of Choice program. Be sure to research each school you’re applying to before submitting your application. Good luck!

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11 thoughts on “How Schools of Choice Works in Grand Rapids and Kent County”

  1. Schools of choice include charter schools as they are public schools as well. I would love to see an explanation of the charter school process and how it’s similar/different and fits in with the school of choice conversation in our community. Thanks!

  2. When you apply, they may ask you preferred building (s) but you may not get your preferred choice.

    We were accepted in a district, but in the furthest building away from us – not a good drive in the winter, when 3 other buildings were near us. It’s where we were placed, not our preference. Declined SOC that year.

    The next year we got into district/building of choice. Luck of the draw, since it’s lottery based, not first come, first serve.

    Easy process, glad we did it.

  3. The application process was easy and I had no problem getting any questions answered by the schools and KISD. I applied for Kindergarten and 6th grade for my child and both times did not receive a spot. Each time we listed three options and I crossed my fingers. I new there were only a handful of spots and hundreds of applications and hate that choosing a good school is like rolling dice. The reality is that 90% of the times if you can’t afford to live in a better district you will not get a spot.I am looking forward to whatever Betsy DeVos has in store so I don’t have to gamble again for high school nonchoice in the fall of 2019.

  4. I’m interested in the program. Does anyone know if one applies to an actual school? Or, does one apply to a district and then the district assigns a school?

  5. We did school of choice for our oldest who is a freshman this year. She is at Lowell. Very easy application process and they were always willing to answer any questions we had.

  6. Parents with children who are in cognitive impairment classes don’t have school of choice.. They told me there’s only certain seating for those kind of classes! Grand Rapids public told me the only class they had for my children was at east Leonard! I was not impressed.. The teacher talked to my kids along with the rest like they were idiots! She literally downed a lil girl with only one hand for not getting her stuff put away fast enough! Who the heck treats their students like that??!! Especially special education!!

  7. Stephanie Thornton

    My daughter is in her school through school of choice and she rides the bus to school and back every day. It’s definitely worth asking about busing after you’ve been accepted. I do take her to a bus stop within the district, which is a lot closer to home than taking her all the way to school.

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