Choice Today

Under Boston’s student assignment plan, the city is divided into three geographic “zones” — East, West, and North — for elementary and middle schools. Students may apply for:

  • Schools in the zone in which they live
  • Schools in other zones if the schools are within their “walk zone”
  • Citywide K-8 and middle schools that are open to all students

All of our high schools are citywide, which means that students entering high school may apply for any school, regardless of location.

Sometimes a school doesn’t have room for every student who lists it as a choice. When this happens, a computer assigns students based on choice and priorities. Here are the major priorities, with the highest listed first:

  1. Sibling + walk zone
  2. Sibling
  3. Walk zone (a priority for 50% of available seats)
  4. Random number

Within each assignment period, students with the highest priority are assigned first.

Sibling priority: We try to assign children in the same family to the same school if the parent requests it. If you want your children to go to the same school, ask the Family Resource Center staff how to apply for sibling priority. However, sometimes a school doesn’t have room for all the siblings who apply for it; so we can’t guarantee sibling assignments. Be sure to list sibling preference the first time you apply.

Walk zone priority: 50 percent (one-half) of each school’s seats are set aside for applicants with walk zone priority. Students have walk zone priority if they live approximately:

  • 1 mile or less from elementary school
  • 1.5 miles or less from middle school
  • 2 miles or less from high school.

Random number: A computer gives each application a random number. Random numbers are used to break “ties” between students who have the same priorities for the school. Let’s say there is one seat left for K2 at the Kenny Elementary School in Dorchester. All applicants with sibling and walk zone priority have been assigned. Three additional students, all without sibling or walk zone priority, listed the Kenny as their first choice. The student with the lowest (“best”) random number will be assigned.

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions and a school choice schedule, please visit the Boston Public Schools website.