Want to send your child to an out-of-district school for free? Better make up your mind. And quickly.
The deadline to file a notice of intent to participate in the state's Interscholastic Public School Choice program is Nov. 1. Applications must be submitted by Dec. 1 (Click here for notice of intent).
Students can apply to attend any public school enrolled in the program. Transportation is paid by the sending district if it's within 20 miles. Families or guardians are responsible for transportation for any school farther.
In Morris County, the Mine Hill School District, the Morris Hills School District, the Morris School District and the Wharton School District are participating. In Sussex County, the Lafayette Township School District, the Lenape Valley Regional High School District, the Ogdensburg Public School District and Vernon Township Public Schools are part of the program. In Somerset County, the Bound Brook School District and the South Bound Brook School District are participating.
Choice schools set the number of openings for grade level. For example, Lenape Valley Regional High School has 36 available seats—or room for 12 freshmen, 12 sophomores, seven juniors and five seniors. If the number of students applying to the school outnumbers the available seats, students are chosen via lottery.
Districts interested in the program, which Gov. Chris Christie signed into law in 2010 after a five-year pilot program, can send applications to the Department of Education.
"All children, regardless of where they are born, should have the same hope and opportunity that comes with attending a school that works best for them. The Interdistrict Public School Choice program empowers parents to make the best educational choices for their children, so they have the best chance for a successful future," Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said in a statement. "This program also allows districts to maximize enrollment and more efficiently use space in their schools."
Seventy-one school districts are participating in the program in 2012-2013. Click here for a full list. In 2011-2012, 1,878 students enrolled in the program.