Clay County schools open enrollment begins Friday

Program allows parents to choose school outside students’ attendance zone

Program allows parents to choose school outside students’ attendance zone.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Clay County School District will launch its controlled open enrollment program for the fifth year, which gives parents the option of choosing a Clay County school for their child that is outside their established attendance zone based on capacity at key schools.

The window to apply for Controlled Open Enrollment begins on Friday and ends on April 9.

“For us, open enrollment is a great opportunity to market all the great things that are happening Clay County Schools,” district chief of staff Terri Dennis said. “Sometimes we do get a lot of students from other surrounding districts that want to come to our school district. We are an “A” school district.”

Schools with openings include Montclair Elementary with 36 spots, Rideout Elementary with 36 spots, S. Bryan Jennings Elementary with 34 spots, Orange Park Junior High with 146 spots and Orange Park High with 439 spots.

There are a total of 691 openings this year, which is 400 fewer openings than the number available last year.

The Clay County School Board approved the COE plan Thursday which includes a reduction in the enrollment threshold a school must meet to qualify, dropping from 85% capacity last year to 80% this year.

“This determination takes into account the rapid growth in Clay County,” the Controlled Open Enrollment Plan said. “In order to allow the District to plan for future growth and establish efficient attendance zones and boundaries, a new school will not be subject to Controlled Open Enrollment until it has been in operation for three years.”

Meanwhile, demand for open enrollment has steadily increased since the program’s inception in 2017.

School YearNumber of Applicants

“I definitely expect a high number this year just because of the different choice options,” Dennis said. “I think a lot when this first started, I don’t think parents really understood what controlled open enrollment was and that it was even something they could apply for. I think I’m having this window a little bit later, we’re expanding it an extra week, will hopefully help increase of numbers and people will realize to apply.”

There is a plan in place if the number of applications surpasses the number of available spots.

“Should more students apply than seats available for any given school, the Clay County School District will conduct a random lottery selection process based on School Board policy,” the plan said. The lottery would begin the week of April 26.

Students in certain situations will be granted priority, which is outlined in the plan as follows:

  1. Dependent children of active-duty military personnel whose move resulted in military orders;
  2. Children who have been relocated due to a foster care placement in a different school zone;
  3. Children who move due to a court-ordered change in custody due to separation or divorce, or the serious illness or death of a custodial parent;
  4. All other students residing in the school district.

Applications will be available at the Clay County District Schools’ website.