Well, it’s fall. Do you know what that means? Time to start thinking about the 2017-2018 school year!
No, really. It’s time.
Remember back in the days of Yore, when your mom just took you to the local public school where you were zoned, signed you up, and then called it a day?
Ah. Good times.
Well, now you have options! No longer are you bound to a certain school based on your residence. No more pretending you live at Grandma’s house so that your child can attend a different school. Starting October 31st, you can apply to up to seven of the 160 different Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) available for school options. There are so many good places to learn the process, what to do, and when to do it. You can go to the MNPS website, or this article, Making Sense of the Metro Nashville Public Schools Application Process, and they will educate you on everything you need to know.
Now that you know where to find the basics, let me walk you through the emotions of the school lottery system. This can go one of two ways for you.
The first (and most desired) scenario:
You fill out your paperwork for your top seven choices, ranking them in order from your top choice at #1 and your last choice at #7, and submit. Selection day arrives in December, you check your results, and BAM! You’re in! #1 school choice! Easy peasy. “Man, that wasn’t hard at all,” you think to yourself while wondering why everyone makes such a fuss. Good for you, first scenario person. Good for you.
The second scenario:
You realize the year before your precious snowflake is supposed to start school that the state of TN has changed the law. Now a child must be five years old BEFORE August 15th in order to start kindergarten. Your baby has an August 23rd birthday. WHAT!?! You call Metro and ask, “What can be done?!” They say, “Nothing.”
You, of course, do not believe that, so you research and research and everyone tells you, “Nothing can be done.” You finally dig through the TN House Bill that made this TN law change (because you are now a crazy person on a mission) and see that your child can be evaluated by your zoned school principal. But what if you want to enter your child into the lottery to attend a different school? Then what?
Let me save you the heartache and the endless internet searches/phone calls and tell you to contact the Office of Exceptional Education (at 615-259-8702). They will mail you a LARGE packet that you and your child’s preschool teachers must fill out and return. Once you submit the packet, you wait for a phone call to set up your first testing session. Should your snowflake pass the first session, you begin the second testing session. If your child passes that session, then you are set for kindergarten.
You will receive a letter of approval for an early admission that must accompany your MNPS lottery application. If your child has a late birthday, and you choose to go this route, start this process ASAP. This process can take a couple of months as they have hundreds of applicants to process and test. We submitted our application in October, tested late November and early December, and got our letter of approval for early admission the day before lottery submissions were due. (Cue heart attack.)
So, you have your Early Admission letter, your lottery submission and you submit it and breathe a sigh of relief.
Selection Day arrives in December, you check your results, and see that you got your #6 pick. Wait, what? #6? You may cry at your desk over this. But do not worry! You still have a chance to move up your list. After Selection Day occurs and people accept (or do not accept) a school, it opens up available seats in other schools. Starting in March and going through July, Metro will have four “pulls” to fill the vacant seats left by people not accepting a seat at a school. This is where you have the possibility of moving up the list toward your top ranked schools. By the end of the summer, we accepted a spot at our #4 choice school and were happy.
We sent our special snowflake off to his first day at #4 school and were so happy to be done with the lottery process. That is—until we received a phone call, five days into the start of school, letting us know that a seat had opened up for us at #1 school.
You. cannot. be. serious.
We JUST started #4 school! You may cry and tell your husband, “NO, absolutely not! We are not moving him. I’m so DONE with this!” But then your husband will calm you down with phrases like, “Stop being crazy,” and “Sibling preference for our daughter in two years,” and you will calm down and transfer your child after five days of school. We are now on our second year at #1 school—and love it.
So there you have it. The two possible outcomes of the MNPS Lottery—at least for the elementary age children. Most of you will not have to deal with the late birthday problem (you lucky dogs), but should you not get your #1 school on Selection Day, hang in there. After all of the pulls, if you still do not make it to your #1 school, then you can always re-apply the next year.