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'12 Days of School Choice': How does the 'wait list' work?

posted Dec 26, 2019, 4:09 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 6, 2020, 11:11 AM by Bruce Richards ]

In an effort to inform District 60 parents and others about the school choice process, this is the second of 12 blog posts explaining the process and helping guide parents with helpful tips along the way. Open enrollment for the 2020-21 school year begins Jan. 13, 2020. 

The school choice "lottery period" from Jan. 13 to Feb. 9 seems like pretty anxious stuff. You fill out a school choice application, and you have to wait a month or longer to find out if your child would get offered a spot at their chosen school. On Feb. 27, parents will be notified if their child won a spot at their chosen school, and if they didn't, they'll be added to a "wait list."

Though it seems stressful to consider that your child will not get selected, we want to assure you, it's not the end of the world

Why would I get put on a wait list?
School choice applications are accepted from January to August, and as part of that process is the "lottery period" from Jan. 13 to Feb. 9. That "lottery period" provides parents the best chance for their child to win enrollment at their chosen school. View our previous post about the lottery process to learn more about how the school choice lottery works.

However, it’s an unfortunate reality that not every child will win a spot at their school of choice. Some schools are more popular than others, and as a result, only limited space is available. When there are more applicants than open spots in a certain grade at a particular school, children not selected during the lottery process are put on to a wait list for that school.

Can my child still win enrollment at their chosen school despite being on the wait list?
YES! While your child does not have a 100% chance of winning enrollment at his/her chosen school after being placed on a wait list, the odds are pretty close.

Last year, 90% of school choice applicants that were placed on wait lists were offered spots at their chosen school before the start of the new school year in August. So, if your child doesn't win a spot during the lottery period, you can exhale, as your child's chances at being offered a spot at their chosen school are still pretty high.

If you applied during the Jan. 13 to Feb. 9 lottery period, 96% of those applicants were offered spots at their chosen school, meaning just four percent were placed on wait lists.

Those are high odds, so try not to panic as that Feb. 27 notification date comes close. Chances are, your child will be offered a spot, and furthermore, even if they're placed on a wait list, there's still a very high chance they will win a spot before the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Wait lists do not operate chronologically by date
Let's say you're reading this and it's past the Feb. 9 "lottery period" deadline. If you missed that deadline, you didn't miss your window by any means.

Any school choice application turned in after Feb. 9 results in your child being put on a wait list. Even then, 90% of those are still offered spots at their chosen school.

The way names are selected from wait lists are by random, with preference given to students that meet certain criteria, such as living inside of District 60 boundaries, or applying to join the same the school as a sibling (See our previous blog post about which students receive preference and why). The wait list is not chronological, and does not operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

What this all means is that if you have a pretty good reason as to why your child should attend a certain school, chances are, you'll get selected for a spot at that school. Again, it's not a 100% chance, but it's close.

Great, I like my chances! How can I apply?
The process to apply to the school of your choice is actually quite easy. Find out more by reading our previous post about the application process.

Once the lottery window opens (after 8:00 a.m. on Monday, January 13, 2020, the school choice application will be available at

If you have more questions, read one of the blog posts below or contact the District 60 School Choice team at (719) 253-6014 or