The School Choice Process

The School Choice Process

What is it?

What is School Choice?

School Choice is an umbrella term used to describe programs that provide the opportunity for students and their families to select from an array of school options that best fit their child’s academic needs. New Haven Public Schools’ options include Neighborhood Schools, Magnet Schools, Interdistrict Magnet Schools and Charter Schools each with its own unique sets of themes and programming. 


Why School Choice?

School Choice is a proven strategy used to raise academic achievement and foster culturally diverse school communities. New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) is committed to ensuring all students are engaged in their learning. NHPS’ School Choice Program supports students’ educational success by offering a diverse set of schools with unique themes and programming designed to engage students’ interests.

Through an application process, families have the opportunity to select four schools. High school applicants also select their attendance zone school - James Hillhouse or Wilbur Cross. The Program is open to students in all grades (PreK through 12th grade). 


Who is the Program For?

1 |   New Kindergarten Students  Students entering Kindergarten for the first time

New Kindergarten applicants currently attending a NHPS PreK School Readiness or Head Start program must submit an application to ensure Kindergarten placement in August 2019.

New Kindergarten applicants must register for school. Attend a Kindergarten Information Session or visit us at 54 Meadow St.

New Kindergarten applicants who select their neighborhood zone school as their first choice, but are placed in another school, will remain on the waitlist for the first choice school.

PreK4 students currently enrolled in a magnet school that starts at PreK, will automatically be placed in that school’s Kindergarten. No application or registration is needed. To determine if the PreK program is a part of the magnet school, see the grade level information for the school.

2 |   Rising 9th Graders  Students currently in the 8th grade

All 8th graders currently enrolled in NHPS must submit an application to ensure grade 9 placement in August 2019.

Applications will only be accepted online. Paper applications will only be accepted due to special circumstances.

In addition to applying to magnet schools, you will rank the academy options for the high school within your attendance zone (Hillhouse or Cross). If you are placed at one of these schools, your rankings will be shared with the school. Placement in the academies will be determined by the school administration based on the rankings and seat capacity for each academy. 

3 |   All Students Interested in Transferring Schools

Any student interested in transferring from their current magnet, neighborhood or charter school must submit a School Choice application. 

4 |   All Students

All Students may submit an application. However, available seats grades 1-8 and 10-12 are limited due to the promotion of currently enrolled students.


PLEASE NOTE: Once a student is placed in a school, the placement is for the entire school year (August 2019 through June 2020). Mid-year transfers will only be considered for extenuating circumstances.


What are the Steps?

Families are encouraged to:

1. Identify your child’s interests and talents. What makes your child unique? What motivates your child?

2. Explore school options by attending Expos, Open Houses and Community Events.

3. Make Informed Choices. Consider matters such as school theme, hours, distance from home, after-school programs, sports, etc.

4. Complete the School Choice Application or submit a paper application by Sunday, March 17, 2019: Students applying for grade 9 must apply online. Students applying for grades 10 through 12 are encouraged to apply online.

The Office of Choice & Enrollment:

5.  Sends an email or mail confirmation that your application was processed;

6.  Conducts the Student Placement Process on April 10, 2019;

7.  Notifies you of placement in school and/or waitlist by email on April 10 and by mail on April 15, 2019.

Please Note:  Each school has a set capacity based on the number of classrooms/students per class which cannot be exceeded. Therefore, your child may not be placed in one of your selected choices. New students to the district will be placed in a school with available seats.


The School Choice Placement Process 

Overview: Placement Process

The School Choice Program relies on a computer-based program to assign students to schools because the number of applicants is greater than the number of available seats in some schools. The School Choice Placement Process is based on placement procedures ordered by preferences (see school descriptions to determine which preferences are available at each school).  Applicants with a preference at a particular school are placed or assigned a waitlist number before applicants who do not have a preference.

As the District is not able to guarantee placement in a particular school, we are committed to ensuring that all schools meet the needs of our students.


What are the Types of Schools?

Magnet Schools 

Eligible Applicants: New Haven Residents

Magnet Schools seek to engage students in learning by offering a range of themes, including STEM, performing arts, and technology and languages. Students attending Magnet Schools engage in learning with their peers from the various neighborhoods in New Haven in support of efforts to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation. 

Interdistrict Magnet Schools 

Eligible Applicants: New Haven & Suburban Residents

Interdistrict Magnet schools, like magnet schools, are designed to attract students by offering high quality curriculum and a range of themes. Students attending interdistrict magnets engage in learning with their peers from nearby suburban towns in support of efforts to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation. 

Neighborhood Schools 

Eligible Applicants: New Haven Residents

Neighborhood Schools offer New Haven families the choice of sending their child to a school that is closer to home and strongly rooted in the community. Like all New Haven Public Schools, neighborhood schools offer students access to quality education with talented and passionate teachers and administrators, a rigorous curriculum, vibrant arts and music programs, and strong community partnerships. 

Charter Schools 

Eligible Applicants: New Haven Residents

Charter Schools offer specialized educational programs, small class size, and a focus on teacher-parent communication. These small-scale programs are managed by governing boards comprised of teachers, parents/guardians, and may include community members. 


What are the Preferences?

1. Neighborhood & Sibling
Applicant has sibling in the school and lives in the school’s attendance zone.

2. Neighborhood Only
Applicant does not have a sibling in the school, but lives in the school’s attendance zone.

3. Sibling Only
Applicant has sibling in the school and the siblings share the same address.

4. Siblings Applying Together

If siblings want to be placed in the same school and choose the same schools in the same order, they may check the “Siblings Applying Together” box on the application. If one sibling is placed, then the other sibling will be placed if a seat is available. If a seat is not available, the system will attempt to place the other sibling in one of their other choices. If the sibling is not placed, he/she will be placed on the waitlist with a sibling apply preference. 

Note: Preferences are applied at the choice level (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) of the selected school.

Once a student is placed in a school, the placement is for the entire school year (August 2019 to June 2020). Mid-year transfers will only be considered for extenuating circumstances.


How Does It Work?

The Placement System starts by 1) selecting applications for a given school, starting with 1st choice; 2) groups applications based on preferences (Note: preferences vary by school, see school description); 3) assigns placement number within each preference group; 4) fills seats, starting with applicants with the highest preference; 5) Repeat Cycle for remaining choices until all seats are filled.   

Students not placed in one of their selected school choices will be placed on the waitlist.  Students will be called from the waitlist if placed students decline the seat or if additional seats open up due to student mobility.


What happens if my child is waitlisted?

Due to the high number of applications and number of available seats in some schools, students may not be placed in one of the schools selected on their application.  Students not placed in one of their choices are placed on a waitlist.

Students not placed in one of their choices will be assigned to a school as follows:

Is the student enrolled in a New Haven Public School?

How will the student be placed?

Not Enrolled in a NHPS*

Placed in a school closest to their home  with available seats

Enrolled in a NHPS , but in the last grade of their current school

Placed in a school closest to their home with available seats

Enrolled in a NHPS, but are not in the last grade of their current school

Remain in their current school for the upcoming year


* Includes students currently enrolled in Amistad, Elm City College
Preparatory, Booker T. Washington and Common Ground Charter schools

When does the waitlist expire?

For New Haven residents, the waitlist will expire at the close of the first marking period (early November). Efforts will  be made to ensure all seats are filled by the start of the school year. However, as seats become available after the start of school, students will be called from the waitlist. 

We Provide

  • State-of-the-Art Schools

  • Free Transportation &
    Free Tuition

  • Free Preschool for
    3 & 4-year-olds

Our Mission

In addition to providing effective and innovative educational practices, New Haven Schools of Choice are designed to foster student enrollment patterns that reflect racial, ethnic and economic diversity.

Families must apply to our schools.  Students are placed in schools through a lottery.


Who Can Apply

New Haven residents can apply to any magnet or charter school in the city. Our Interdistrict Magnet Schools are open to all Connecticut residents. There are no admission requirements, tests or prerequisites for our students. We serve special education students, English Language learners, talented and gifted students and everyone else who comes through the lottery to our schools. No student may be denied enrollment because of race, ethnicity or disability. 

Contact Us

New Haven Public Schools -
Office of Choice & Enrollment

54 Meadow Street, First Floor
New Haven, CT 06519 MAP

Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Phone: 475-220-1430 &

© 2016 New Haven Public Schools of Choice - Office of Choice & Enrollment