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Open Enrollment: What Does it Mean for Your Next Home Location?

The highly-rated Boulder Valley School District offers Open Enrollment (OE), a program allowing parents and guardians the opportunity to register children in a school outside of their designated neighborhood one. Boulder’s schools have a wide variety of educational types, allowing kids to learn in an environment that better suits their talents, interests or learning style. Families can choose from varying instructional philosophies and focuses such as Montessori, Waldorf, Fine Arts, and Science. OE is an exciting option for families to choose the school that best serves their kids, whether that’s a neighborhood school or an opt-in-only facility (like Peak-to-Peak, Summit, or Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies). BVSD believes in school choice so heartily that families outside of the Boulder district may open enroll their kids into BVSD.

According to the BVSD Open Enrollment website, students may:

  1. Attend their district designated neighborhood school (based on home address)
  2. Open enroll to another neighborhood school
  3. Open enroll in a focus school (meets BVSD standards but may have a different curriculum or philosophy)
  4. Open enroll in a charter school (an independent school) within the district

The OE period for the 2018 – 2019 school year started November 1, 2017 and goes through January 9, 2018. During the OE time frame, schools hold open houses and tours so that prospective families can visit campuses, meet staff, and ask questions. For many area schools, OE is a straightforward process of choosing and enrolling. However, for some, such as Fairview High School, there is a long waiting list paired with a lottery. This results in a minimal percentage getting their enrollment wishes granted. The principal at Fairview High School recently stated that he’ll accept no open enrollees in the first round for the 2018-19 year, and only siblings and/or staff children in the second round. Therefore, if Fairview is your first choice and you don’t fall under those criteria, Fairview will have to be your neighborhood school to guarantee enrollment. BVSD emails OE results around January 31.

In light of my son’s learning style, I’ve registered him in the Arts based BCSIS and followed suite with my daughter at the same location. While students don’t get school bus service when enrolled outside of their neighborhood schools, the opportunity to send my kids to BCIS is worth the extra driving and carpool coordination.

How does this relate to buying a home? In Boulder County, real estate decision can be somewhat less pivotal on the local school thanks to Open Enrollment. If you’re like me and want to send your child to a non-neighborhood school, you can go through the school choice process with the understanding that there are no guarantees. It’s a good idea to talk with the school staff – namely the principal – to get a better understanding of how many students your first choice typically accepts annually. You’ll need to decide how comfortable you are with going through the OE process versus guaranteeing a student spot. If you’re dead-set on a certain school, you’ll want to live within that designated boundary.

Due to Fair Housing Laws, Realtors can’t tell you what the best neighborhood is for your family. So, research and choose an area or two that attracts you and I’ll investigate homes for sale. If you don’t know where to begin, I can bring you on an exploratory neighborhood tour. From there you can decide which community feels right. I can also inform you how neighborhood, focus, and charter schools rate on GreatSchools.org, a terrific resource for parents. School choice helps lighten the decision making process about a family’s next home location; BVSD helps open boundaries and choices for all.

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