Frequently Asked Questions
Currently enrolled in BPS
Boston families can use any of our Welcome Centers:
- BPS Welcome Center Dorchester - 1216 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester (behind Burger King) 617-635-8015
- BPS Welcome Center Roxbury - 75 Malcolm X Blvd., Roxbury (near Roxbury Crossing MBTA) 617-635-9010
- BPS Welcome Center Roslindale - 515 Hyde Park Ave., Roslindale (near Cummins Hwy.) 617-635-8040
- BPS Welcome Center East Boston Satellite office is also open during limited hours. 617-635-9597
You will need to bring the following documents:
- At least TWO specific proofs of residency as listed in the BPS Residency Policy
- Registrant's original birth certificate (with raised seal), passport, or Form I-94.
- Up-to-date immunization records
- Parent/Guardian Photo ID
BPS Welcome Services strongly encourages families to rank at least five schools on their Assignment Application. BPS families can and do rank more than five and can even include all of the schools available to them at registration. Choosing more schools, especially schools at which your child has a walk zone or sibling priority, means a greater possibility of assignment.
See Research and Pre-Register to find out your school choices and more information such as which schools are within your walk zone.
Parent/Guardians and/or students over 18 years old must have photo ID to use the services of the Welcome Centers.
All new to the Boston Public Schools registrants must present specific current proofs of Boston residency. For instructions on acceptable proofs of address, please see our Required Documents page and read about the district's Residency Policy. If you live in Boston but are having a hard time securing acceptable proofs, please call an Welcome Centers to discuss your circumstances.
Families who are living in Boston under someone else's lease can use the BPS Landlord Affidavit as one proof of residency.
Families living in homeless shelters may register for BPS under the McKinney-Veto Homeless Assistance Act. Please bring a letter from the shelter staff stating that you are staying there, or contact an Welcome Centers for more information.
If you have not had your child immunized for health reasons or religious beliefs, present the staff at the Welcome Center with a signed letter from your physician, religious leader, and/or a parent/guardian stating why your child is not immunized.
BPS is expanding the number of K1 classrooms for students who will be four years old by September 1. BPS currently offers more than 2,400 K1 seats.
K0 classrooms, for students who will be three years old by September 1, are far more limited. Neither K0 nor K1 classrooms are present in every school and there is no guarantee that every child who applies for BPS pre-K will receive a school assignment.
If I complete registration, is my five-year-old child guaranteed a seat in a BPS kindergarten (K2) program?
Yes, although not necessarily at one of your initial school choices. For children who will be five years old by September 1, BPS guarantees a full-day Kindergarten (K2) seat. However, BPS will not administratively assign K2 registrants to a school their parent/guardian(s) did not select on the Assignment Application. Therefore, if BPS cannot assign a child to a K2 school their parent/guardian(s) chose, s/he will be unassigned and placed on up to three wait lists.
BPS strongly encourages families to choose as many schools as possible to improve their chances of being assigned. K2 families who are not assigned after registering in Round One may return to a Welcome Center to make more school choices or to ask for an administrative assignment within their zone.
My child already completed Kindergarten outside of BPS but will not be six years old by September 1. May I apply for a Grade 1 assignment?
No. There are no waivers or exceptions to our minimum age requirement for Grade 1, regardless of a child's previous school experience. Any child who will be five years old by September 1 may apply for a K2 assignment.
BPS is undergoing an effort called Improving School Choice 2012 that may lead to a significantly different assignment system in the future. Please visit the Improving School Choice website for more information.
I pre-registered online using BPSExpress - now what?
At the end of your online pre-registration, BPSExpress provides a full summary with a receipt number. Please bring with you a printed copy of this summary along with your required documents for registration with you when you visit the Welcome Center and inform the front desk that you pre-registered online with BPSExpress.
BPSExpress users are processed in a separate queue.
Are assignments made on a first-come, first-served basis? Should I come on the first day of Round One?
No. Our student assignment policy considers a variety of factors when matching students with schools of their choice. These factors include a student's educational needs, his/her priorities (walk zone, sibling) for a given school, his/her random number, and the registration round in which the family applied. No school assignments are made until the close of each registration round, so a family that registers on the first day of their round has no advantage over a family that registers on the last day of the same round just because they registered earlier.
Only students applying for Kindergarten (K0-K2), Grade 6, and Grade 9 who registered during Round One will be assigned at the close of that round even if their siblings applying for other grades registered at the same time. From Round Two onward, all students who register in a round will be assigned following the close of that round.
There are fewer open seats after each passing round, so families should try their best to register children during the first round for their grade.
New to Boston families may register for BPS at any time for a current school year assignment. Please visit an Welcome Center with 1) your child's original birth certificate, 2) your child's up-to-date immunization record, 3) Parent/Guardian photo ID, and two proofs of Boston residency from the list below, and a Registration Specialist will be happy to help you.
Boston families may only apply to the schools within a specific geographic area around their home address, that offer their child's grade level. For example, there are very limited K0 opportunities, which may result in only one school option on some applications. Additionally, some special needs programs are only available at a specific set of schools.
Half of the seats in a school are reserved for applicants with a walk zone priority. Students have walk zone priority if they live within a certain distance of a school and are often expected to travel to school without transportation assistance. However, a limited number of options may be within a student's walk zone yet still be eligible for transportation.
To find out which schools are within your walk zone, which schools are transportation-eligible, and which schools are both, enter your home address into What are my Schools? and look for the "W" for walk zone priority, the "T" for transportation eligibility, and "WT" for both.
If you live near a zone boundry, you can apply to to the schools in the assignment zone across the border if they fall within your walk zone. This distance is 1 mile for elementary school, 1.5 miles for middle school, and 2 miles for high school (although high school students may apply to any school in the city.)
If you change addresses, please inform a BPS Welcome Center as soon as possible so that important information such as your child's school assignment can reach you. To update your address with BPS, please return to an Welcome Center with at least two proofs (from our list) of your new Boston address and a photo ID. If your new address is in a different assignment zone, you will be asked to make new school choices unless you are willing to transport your child to and from a school in your old assignment zone on your own.
You may also choose to make new school choices even if your assignment zone has not changed. If you do not change your address with us, your school assignment may not be convenient to your new home and BPS will not be able to send your assignment notice and other important documents to the correct address. Families who move out of the City of Boston are not eligible for BPS.
How are students assigned when there are more applications for a school than there are available seats? Can I find out my random number?
At the close of every registration round, our assignment computer program (algorithm) matches students to seats based on their priorities (if applicable), their random number, and the number of seats available in the grade desired at each school in the order they were ranked on that student's application. BPS does not share random number information, but we do provide school assignment and wait list information by mail and over the phone as it becomes available.
BPS assignment notices are mailed home approximately six weeks after each registration round. The schedule for this year's assignment notices can be found on the What's Next document that is sent home with every new to BPS family at the completion of registration at a Welcome Center. When school assignments become available, families may also contact a Welcome Center to find out their results. After the last registration round in June, assignments are done on a case-by-case basis and take approximately five business days following case completion. Note: If registration includes language testing by Newcomer Assessment and Counseling Center, assignment could take longer.
BPS only assigns K0,K1 and K2 registrants to schools chosen on their Assignment Application. If there are no available seats for an applicant at their chosen schools, s/he will not be administratively assigned to another school. The only exception to this policy is for K2 applicants who will be six years old by December 31. All other pre-k and kindergarten registrants will be placed on the wait list(s) for their top three school choices. Round One K2 registrants who do not receive an assignment are strongly encouraged to return to an Welcome Center as soon as possible to rank more schools. K1 and K0 applicants should note that seats for these grades typically fill up in round one.
Registrants who meet the age requirement for Grade 1 or higher are required by state law to attend school. If BPS is unable to assign these applicants to one of their school choices, BPS will administratively assign students to the school that is closest to their home with that has available seat in their grade level. Administratively assigned students and students who are assigned to one of their school choices but not their top choice will be placed on up to three wait list(s) for their top school choices.
Applicants are assigned from wait list(s) if any of the students in the same grade who were assigned to their chosen school(s) decline their assignment or later withdraw. A student’s placement on a school's wait list is based on the same rules that govern school assignment.
How do I find information on my child's wait list(s)? When are wait list(s) updated and how is a student assigned from a wait list?
Assignments are typically mailed six weeks after the close of a registration round. Once assignment information is available, parent/guardian(s) may also contact any Welcome Center to find out their child's wait list(s). Wait lists are updated with each round of assignments as students accept and decline seats and parent/guardians adjust their wait list(s). After the last round of registration, wait list movement is less predictable but parent/guardians can still call a Welcome Center for an update.
If seats become available, students will be automatically assigned to their wait list schools (even if another school assignment was accepted) until mid-August*. A new Assignment Notice is sent to those students' homes and transportation, if applicable, is re-routed.
Starting in mid-August, parents will be called and provided an 24-hour opportunity to accept or decline an invitation to be assigned to a school from a wait list. Staff call parent/guardians of students on wait lists through the end of September, and once again for one week following the first and second marking periods. Parent/guardians must respond to this wait list call in order for the student's transfer to occur. All wait lists for the current school year expire at the end of January.
*If you are content with your child's assigned school and wish to prevent an automatic transfer, please contact a BPS Welcome Center to have your child's name removed from a wait list.
Yes. A registrant is automatically placed on up to three wait lists if BPS cannot make an assignment to one of the top three school choices. Parent/guardians can re-order these wait list(s), remove their child from wait list(s), and be added to another school's wait list (for a maximum of three) at any Welcome Center.
After you've received your assignment notice, you may return to a Welcome Center to make new school choices even if your child was assigned to a school you ranked. However, we cannot guarantee that the new school(s) you choose will have available seats. A photo ID will be needed for this transaction.
If you have moved to a new address in Boston, please update your information at a Welcome Center as soon as possible so that important information will continue to reach you. A parent/guardian photo ID and two new proofs of your new address will be necessary.
Your child may stay at his/her current school. If your new address is still within the same assignment zone and your student rides a school bus to and from school, BPS Transportation will provide you with a new bus route once your address is updated. If your new address is in a different assignment zone, your student may continue at his/her current school if you agree to provide your own transportation to and from that school. BPS Transportation cannot provide cross-zone school bus service.
If you cannot provide your own transportation to a now out-of-zone school, you will be able to choose new schools for your student at the BPS Welcome Center.
We are still at our same address in Boston but would like to change schools. How do I transfer my student to another BPS school?
BPS families may apply to change schools during the current school year or for the upcoming school year at an Welcome Centers with a parent/guardian photo ID. Requests received by September 30 will be processed as they are received. Requests received after September 30 will be processed in two groups: mid-November and late January.
Regardless of when you apply for a transfer, please note the following:
Boston School Committee policy limits the number of times students may transfer to a different school:
- Elementary School: Once per year in kindergarten–grade 5
- Middle School: Only once in grades 6–8
- High School: Only once in grades 9–12
Transfer requests that meet the requirements will be granted based on seat availability. In the case of transfer requests for the upcoming school year, follow the Registration Rounds and apply during the first opportunity for your child's grade level:
- Kindergarten, grade 6 and grade 9: Apply during Round One.
- All other grades: Apply during Round Two.
You may apply for a transfer in later registration periods, but fewer seats will be available at each school.
My child is completing the highest grade at his/her current school - how do I choose the next BPS school?
Students completing the highest grade in their BPS school will receive Assignment Applications to take home from their school. Parent/guardians should rank the schools on this application and return the completed application to their student's school. BPS students who are moving on to Grade 6 or Grade 9 will be given their Assignment Application in January. BPS students who are moving on to another grade that is not provided at their current school, including AWC-eligible students, will be given Assignment Applications in February.
BPS Welcome Services offers a variety of resources for families to find out and learn about their school choices. Please use the links below: