If your child will start school in Seattle for the first time next fall, or if you have your eye on a Seattle public school outside your neighborhood, here are a few important Seattle Public Schools deadlines you’ll need to keep in mind.

For the 2020-21 school year, online registration for new public-school students opens Jan. 6. About a month later, from Feb. 3-14, you can submit an application to enroll your child in a school other than the one she’s been assigned to. The district will accept applications through May 31, but the longer you wait after the middle of February, the less likely you’ll be to get a spot in the school you desire.

The district’s website has more exhaustive guides for both school choice and new student registration online, but we’ve compiled a few tips for you or families you may know.

New student registration

Where can I find the online registration?

Clicking on “enroll” from the front page of seattleschools.org should get you to the main enrollment page, where you can find links to the online registration portal. The portal is available in other languages such as Spanish and Somali. Just remember that you won’t be able to access the 2020-21 registration until Jan. 6.

What documents do I need to register my student?

With a few exceptions, you’ll need to provide your child’s photo I.D./passport, proof of address in Seattle and immunization paperwork. If your family is experiencing homelessness, the district will waive these requirements. See the district’s McKinney Vento Program page for more information.

Where can I get help with this process?

You can call the district’s admissions center at 206-252-0760 or email admissions@seattleschools.org. If you’d rather speak to someone in person, you can visit the department in the main lobby of the Seattle Public Schools building, 2445 Third Ave. S., Seattle. The department and its hotline is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays (including next week, except for New Year’s Day); on the third Wednesday of every month, it only operates until noon. Bilingual staff speak languages such as Spanish, Vietnamese and Somali.

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The district is also holding an admissions fair at its building Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families with questions are invited to attend.

School choice process or “open enrollment”

I’m new here. How do I know which school my child will be assigned to?

You can use the district’s address lookup tool to figure that out.

Why do families opt to apply for open enrollment?

The district has a number of “option” schools, which draw from multiple attendance areas, that typically host a specialized program. Cleveland High School, for example, has a STEM program. The open enrollment period, Feb. 3-14, is when students apply for spots at these schools. There are also some cases where the district may place a student outside of her neighborhood because another school has a program that better suits her needs, such as a special-education program. If her parents or guardians want one or more of her siblings to attend the same school, they can apply for that through the open-enrollment process.

You can see data for the 2018-19 school year on how many families applied, and for which schools, here.

How do I sign up for open enrollment?

The fastest way to do that is through the district’s online enrollment page starting Feb. 3, or you can visit the admissions center in-person for a paper form.

How can I learn more about the schools available?

The district has a long list of school tours, usually restricted to adult family members, on its website. You can also call the school to inquire.

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Where can I get help with this process? 

You can get help with this process through the same avenues as you would for student registration, which are listed above.

How does the district weigh the applications it receives? 

There are three main factors the district uses to prioritize requests. First, it considers whether the student has a sibling at the school. Second, if the application seeks placement at an option school, priority is given to students residing in that school’s “GeoZone,” or targeted geographical area (you can see all the school GeoZones here). Third, if neither of those conditions apply, you receive a lottery number.

Last year, the district granted out-of-neighborhood assignments to about 36% of the more than 5,000 applicants.

When will I know about the status of my application? 

The district will post the results online in April through its online assignment lookup tool. You just need your student’s district-assigned number and her date of birth to view the status of your application. If your first choice of school is denied, you’ll be put on a waitlist.