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  • Writer's pictureShawna Bonnett

First comes love, then comes marriage, then what school are you going to enroll your child?

My husband and I moved into the Arcadia Light neighborhood when our oldest daughter turned one. We were excited to grow some roots, meet our neighbors and explore all the amazing shops and restaurants in the area. As a Realtor, and mom, my days were about Sesame Street in the mornings, fitting errands in between naps, having at least one fun outing a day and trying to organize real estate showings or meetings around my husband's schedule. Our kid-friendly outings might be an hour at the Scottsdale Civic Center library (amazing for littles I must say), or the Phoenix Zoo, or a walk down to "the blue park". My new parent responsibilities required things like making sure her plate had multiple food groups, that juices were being watered down, play time was creative but also mind was spinning and life was FULL. "Parenting" took "Adulting" and cranked it up 3 notches. However, I felt like I was (basically) on top of everything.

So, imagine my surprise when one beautiful afternoon, my daughter and I were playing in the front yard and we met the nicest neighbor. She was on a walk with her youngest daughter who was about the same age as mine. I was THRILLED to find a playmate that lived right down the street. I was in mid-mental celebration when she asked me which school my daughter was going to attend. Did I hear her right? I thought she was confused so I clarified that my daughter had JUST TURNED one. But, she wasn't confused. She knew what she was asking. She was talking about pre-school. She had two older children as well and this wasn't her first rodeo.

Here's what you need to know. Preschool is something amazing. It's similar to daycare, only with an academic curriculum. They start teaching your child...everything. How to play, how to have friends, how to sit in a circle, how to line up. They also teach colors, animals, sounds, tell stories, sing songs. Your kiddo can go once a week, 5 days a week or anything in-between! But, there are limited pre-school locations, and many of them have waiting lists.

This is practice (of sorts) because when your child gets to primary school, there are many options to be considered and most of those have waiting lists as well.

Let's start with PUBLIC SCHOOL: Arizona has an Open Enrollment policy for students attending public schools.

Open enrollment refers to the opportunity for students to apply for admission to public schools that are outside of their designated school district boundaries. This allows families to choose schools that best fit their children's educational needs and preferences. Here are some key points about open enrollment in Arizona:

  1. Interdistrict Open Enrollment: Students can apply to schools in neighboring districts or any other district within the state.

  2. Intradistrict Open Enrollment: Students can apply for admission to schools within their own district other than their assigned neighborhood school.

  3. Application Process: Parents or guardians interested in open enrollment typically need to submit an application to the desired school or district during the designated application period.

  4. Availability of Space: Acceptance through open enrollment may depend on available space at the desired school. If there are more applicants than available seats, the district may use a lottery system or other criteria to determine admissions.

  5. Special Education Considerations: Students with disabilities have the right to participate in open enrollment, and districts are required to provide appropriate accommodations and services as outlined in federal and state laws.

  6. Impact on Athletics and Extracurricular Activities: Students who participate in athletics or other extracurricular activities should be aware of any eligibility requirements associated with open enrollment, as these may vary between districts and schools.

It's important to note that while open enrollment provides families with more options for choosing schools, admission is not guaranteed and may be subject to various factors, including space availability and district policies. For specific information about open enrollment in a particular district or school in Arizona, it's best to contact the district directly or visit their website for detailed guidelines and application procedures.

(Shameless plug: The best way to attend Hopi elementary is to live in district. I can help you find the perfect home for your family in bounds if this is a priority for your family. Let's look at pocket listings!)

CHARTER SCHOOLS and PRIVATE SCHOOLS are also options that are in high demand. Often times families consider a move to a different school when the grade level maxes out at their current school. For example, if a school is K-5th, then they will need to transfer to a different school for 6th grade. Please know that there is no guarantee that your desired school will have a space for your child/children at that point. Suddenly you are at a place in your child's education where it is important to you that they "get in" and the principal or director of the school points out that "the best way to be accepted to our school WAS to enroll when your child was in pre-school". Similarily, I am aware of a middle school that begins in 5th grade. The best way to enter that school is to apply for the 5th grade year...EVEN THOUGH you may be happy with your current K-5th grade school. You may think that you'll finish out 5th grade at the current school and the apply to middle school for 6th...but there will be very little opportunity for that because the school will have already filled it's classes. Applying/entering the school(s) of your choice in the grade they are first available is your best bet.

Circle back to my original point, planning out a path so that you can get into your desired preschool, grade school, high school etc., may need to begin right after Sesame Street...during the first nap of the day.

As crazy and stressful as that sounds, really, I like to think that we are fortunate because we have not only the choice, but MANY excellent options in our community and valley wide. We have the opportunity to custom fit our schools to our children's needs and interests.

Here are some links to schools in the area. (This list is in no way inclusive of all the options. Be sure to ask around to learn even more.)

Arcadia High School 9-12

Arizona School for the Arts  5th - 12th

Biltmore Preparatory Academy K-8th

Brophy College Prep (Boys) 9-12

Camelback High School 9th-12th

Central High School 9th - 12th

Chapparal High School 9-12

Christ Lutheran (CLS) Preschool - 8th

Covenent Preschool

Desert Mountain HS 9th -12th

Echo Canyon K-8th

Hopi Elementary K-5th

Ingleside Middle School 6th-8th

Little Big Minds Preschool

Paradise Valley United Methodist (PVUMC) Preschool

Phoenix Country Day School (PCDS) "lower -upper school"

Prince of Peace Preschool

Saguaro High School

St. Theresa Preschool - 8th

St. Thomas Preschool - 8th

Tavan Elementary Pre-K-5

Temple Solel Preschool - 12th

Veritas (Great Hearts) K-12th

Villa Montesory Infant - 8th

Xavier High School (girls) 9-12

Scottsdale Unified School District

Creighton School District (Phoenix)

Paradise Valley Schools

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