Skip to content

Episode 117: Everything You Need to Know About Open Enrollment 2022-23

Jordan School District is now accepting applications for school choice open enrollment for the 2022-23 school year. Students currently attending on a school choice permit do NOT have to reapply for a permit if they are remaining at the same school for the 2022-23 school year.

However, students who want to move schools or any student currently on the waitlist without a permit must reapply to be considered for a 2022-23 permit.

On this episode of the Supercast, find out more about the open enrollment process and what parents need to know about the permit window which is now open.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. On this episode of the Supercast, find out more about the open enrollment process and what parents need to know about the permit window, which is now open. First, a brief summary. Jordan School District is now accepting applications for School Choice Open Enrollment for the 2022-23 school year. Students currently attending on a school choice permit do not have to reapply for a permit if they are remaining at the same school for the 2022-23 school year. However, students who want to move schools or any student currently on the waitlist without a permit must reapply to become considered for a 2022-23 permit.

We're here to talk about permits today. Caleb, why don't you introduce yourself?

Caleb Olson:
Thanks. My name's Caleb Olson. I am currently working as the Planning and Enrollment consultant. I have several things in the district that I get to be responsible for, but one of them is the permit process.

Anthony Godfrey:
First of all, for those who may not understand exactly what a permit is, talk to us about how permits work and what they are.

Caleb Olson:
All right, let me give you a little bit of an example if I could. So I think anyone who's probably listening to the podcast has been in a big restaurant or seen a big restaurant that has a bunch of tables and lots of people and a lot of places you can go. When you go to a restaurant like that, they always find a place for you to sit. And you may say to the host at the entrance, you know, I want to sit in a booth or I want to sit by a window or here's where I'd like to be. Sometimes they can accommodate that. And sometimes they just find the spot that you are going to be able to sit in. 

Anthony Godfrey:
For me, it's close to the salad bar. That's where I want to be.

Caleb Olson:
Exactly. So that's sort of how the permit process works in Jordan School District. Everyone has a seat at a school. For most students, that's going to be at their boundary school or their neighborhood school, but there are some people who have a preference. That means they want to attend a different school. They wanna go to someplace else. They may have childcare concerns, or they may want to attend a school that they actually live closer to but they're on the other side of the boundaries. The permit process allows a student who doesn't live in the boundaries of a school to apply for a seat at that school. Now not every school in the district has seats available, but every school is taking those applications. And once those applications come in, we process them. And when seats are available, we offer those to students who live outside the boundaries to attend the school that they wanted to go to. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, State law is very supportive of the concept of parents choosing the school that they wish to attend. I know that my brother lives in Maryland and you attend the school where you live. You attend schools based on where you live and there really isn't an option for changing that. But in Utah, for many years, the law has supported a choice for parents in what school they would like their student to attend.

Caleb Olson:
Exactly. We have a lot of choice available for parents. The only exception, or the only caveat is that there has to be space at the school you want to go to. We have some schools that are really growing areas of the district. We know parents would like to go there, we know students would like to attend, but the boundary population is just so high there aren't any seats left over for anyone else. So in those cases, those schools probably are not going to be able to offer permits. Parents can still apply because there's always a chance that a seat might become available at some point that they could apply for. But they can take their choice and pick up to three schools that they want to apply for. We have some schools in the district that anyone can apply to attend. They don't need a permit. Those would be our virtual academy schools, Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary, Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle and Kings Peak High. There's no permit needed for that. Anyone who's in the Jordan School District can apply to and attend those schools. Outside the district would still need a permit. Any of our regular brick and mortar neighborhood schools are going to be accepting applications. Some of them won't have seats, but they'll all be taking those applications online.

Anthony Godfrey:
And I mentioned the law earlier, we're actually required to post how much space is available in each of our schools. Tell everyone where they can find that information.

Caleb Olson:
So what our patrons will want to do is go to planning.jordandistrict.org or they can go to the District website and search for Student Services and then Planning and Enrollment. Once they get there, there's a tab at the top that says “Enrollment” and they can click there and choose School Choice Permits. That page has a lot of information, including a link to a document that shows which schools we think are going to be over capacity or full next year and which schools may have some space available for out of area students.

Anthony Godfrey:
So provide a link to that page in the show notes so that you can find it easily. Now that allows folks to plan for which permit they might want to request. What if they think, well, I want to permit at this school, this is my first choice, but they may not have space. So in that case, I would permit to this school. If they're two different schools they'd like to try to permit to, how do they go about doing that?

Caleb Olson:
On the permit application that will be available for parents they can actually pick up to three schools and put them in their preferred order. First choice, second choice, third choice. If they're not able to get a seat at the first choice school, they may be able to get one at the second or third choice school. It really just depends on the seats that are available at each school. If parents are applying now, they'll be able to find out what seats are available just after the first of the year in January. If parents apply in the January or February timeframe, they may have to wait a little bit longer to find out, but all parents should know by about the beginning of March, where they will be able to have a seat or, or what schools will not be able to offer those.

Anthony Godfrey:
So let's talk a little bit about the timeline. The window opened on December 1st for permits to be submitted. And as you indicated, December is the time during which any permit submitted at any time during December gets the same consideration. Can you explain that process to everybody?

Caleb Olson:
Yeah. In a lot of districts and in Jordan District as recently as a few years ago, on that first day of the permit window, you had to be waiting outside the building with your permit, filled out, ready to go because it was first come first served.

Anthony Godfrey:
I remember those days, we had parents that would camp out overnight at certain schools to be sure that they were first in line. Quite honestly, if I were in that situation, I would've done the same thing. I've camped out for a lot of concert tickets over the years before everything went electronic, slept on the rock salt out in front of Smiths to try to get the best seat I could. When it comes to education, you know, it was difficult that way, because sometimes you had to just really spend the night, literally, in order to get the permit you wanted.

Caleb Olson:
Exactly, and that wasn't an ideal situation for anyone. So to get around that and to avoid that when we had the boundary changes a few years ago, the Board of Education in the District moved to an online permit system. So there's an online application that parents can fill out either by finding the link that you mentioned will be in the show notes, or by searching on the district website. They can also go to permit.jordandistrict.org and that will direct them to the English application. They can go to permiso, P E R M I S O, permiso.jordandistrict.org for the Spanish application. When they get there, they'll answer some questions and their application will be submitted. Now in the month of December, the Board of Education has decided to run a lottery for all of the applicants. It doesn't matter when you apply in December, you have an equal chance at a seat they've established priorities for each school level for elementary, middle, and high school, that will determine where those seats go.

The students who are in the first priority group, or the highest priority group, have the first shot at seats as they're available. If you qualify for a lower priority group, you may not have as good a chance when those seats are available. Those priorities are different for each level, but they are based off of things like how far you live from the school, if you've been attending the school previously, if you have a sibling at the school, if you have a parent who works at the school. That happens in the month of December. When we come back from winter recess at the beginning of January, we run that lottery and we place students on waiting lists at the schools they selected based on those priority orders. Then schools start to offer seats if they have space available. From January, actually all the way through the end of the next school year, schools are still taking permit applications, but those go to the bottom of the list. And those do go in based on when you apply. So if a parent misses the December window and they decide in January or February they want to apply, they can still do it. They still have a chance. There may be some people on the waitlist ahead of them. But once December is over, you want to apply as soon as you think you know which schools you want to go to to have the best chance.

Anthony Godfrey:
I like that you have the month of December to decide to put that in. You don't have one high stakes moment where you're trying to get those permits in. The priorities were something discussed years ago when we were involved in what we like to call MOAB or the Mother Of All Boundary changes. There was a revamp of the permit process at that time and those categories that the Board created, those priorities rather, were really established to try to be respectful of the different circumstances that families might find themselves in and the reasons that they might be seeking a permit to a school other than the boundary school. So when can parents expect to hear an answer, at least initial answers, about whether the permit request has been accepted?

Caleb Olson:
If they applied for a permit in December, they should hear back from the schools by about the end of the first week of January, back from winter recess. After that point schools have until the third Friday in February to let parents know, but a lot of our schools process and handle those applications much quicker. So parents should know usually within about a two week period after January starts whether they're at on a wait list or if they'll be able to be offered a seat at the schools they selected.

Anthony Godfrey:
Roughly, just off the top of your head, what percentage of our schools were able to accept permits this year?

Caleb Olson:
Well, we're a growing district and that means that we have a lot of schools that are pretty full. There were a lot of schools that were able to offer seats, and there were a lot of schools that weren't. I can tell you that for this year, we're expecting about 2000 seats to be open across the district. Those seats though, aren't always going to be at the places people want them to be. We have a few schools with a lot of seats, and we have a lot of schools with very few seats. So it really depends on where you're at in the district and what schools you're interested in. In the West Jordan area, we have a lot of schools with more space and there are more seats available when you get further south in the district in Riverton or Herriman, we have schools that are a little more full. So those schools are probably less likely to offer seats. At the secondary level it's a little easier for schools to have seats because there's more classes, there's more opportunities, there's more offerings. So elementary is gonna be a little more challenging across the district. The secondary schools will be a little easier.

Anthony Godfrey:
More information on the permit process with Caleb Olson when we come back.

Break:
Are you looking for a job right now? Looking to work in a fun and supportive environment with great pay and a rewarding career? Jordan School District is hiring. We're currently filling full and part-time positions. You can work and make a difference in young lives and education as a classroom assistant or a substitute teacher. Apply to work in one of our school cafeterias where our lunch staff serves up big smiles with great food every day. We're also looking to hire custodians and bus drivers. In Jordan School District we like to say people come for the job and enjoy the adventure. Apply today at workatjordan.org.

Anthony Godfrey:
We talked about the fact that this is all based on school capacity. Depending on the time of year capacity is calculated differently. Explain that.

Caleb Olson:
So at the time that we're talking about now in December, we are projecting enrollment for next year. We don't know exactly how many kids will show up in August, but we're doing our best to make an educated guess. And that's what we base the number of permit seats off of before the school year starts. When we get into August, when the school year has actually begun, we base our capacity off of the number of teachers in the building. At an elementary level, we would look at a specific grade and if that grade was low or that there were seats available, we might be able to offer permits just in that grade. At the secondary level, it gets a little more tricky because you may have seats in a language arts class, but not seats in a math class. And at secondary, we have to be able to offer a spot in all of the classes a student would need to be able to accommodate them. So right now we're doing our best guess off of the trends and the move-ins and the information we have available. As we get closer to the school year, and when the school year starts, we switch to using teachers and the amount of students per teacher in every building.

Anthony Godfrey:
During the initial permit window, in other words, can the building fit extra students? If so, then we can accept some permits. But there's a point at which even if there are some empty classrooms, you may not accept permits because you're not staffed at a level that would allow you to accept additional students. Otherwise the staffing would be shifting throughout the year, and it just would be impossible to have teachers and students matched up appropriately in classrooms. So really the bottom line is the best time is December but you can always apply beyond December. There's a lot that can shift between December and the beginning of the school year.

Caleb Olson:
Exactly. And parents need to not be worried about applying in December, because if they're not able to get a seat in December, their name stays on a waitlist, actually all the way through the following school year. So we're accepting permit applications now for the 22-23 school year. Anyone who goes on the waitlist in December will actually stay there until the end of June of 2023. So no matter what happens, you're on the waitlist, and that spot won't go away. So if seats come open, if there are big changes at a school, they may need to call some people on the waitlist and offer seats. So you may get that chance. We keep your name on the waitlist. If you are on a waitlist for this school year, you'll want to reapply. Because again, that waitlist only goes through the end of the school year so you'll want to reapply every year if you don't get a seat. If you do get a seat, you don't have to reapply. You get to keep that permit, until you either choose to return to your boundary school or until you finish the grades offered at that building. So a permit at the elementary lasts through sixth grade, through ninth grade at the middle school, and until you graduate at the high school level. There's also not a fee associated with the permit application. It's available to anyone in the district, anyone in the state of Utah. They can make those applications. They can do it online at the websites we mentioned. They don't have to worry about waiting outside or trying to get to a school during school hours. It's available anytime night or day during the month of December. So if they don't make a decision on a school until winter recess starts, there's no worry about the school not being open. They can go straight to the permit application and fill one out.

Anthony Godfrey:
Transportation. That's a question sometimes. A student on permit does not qualify for transportation except perhaps on a space available permit, which would be rare for that to be available for someone out of boundary, because there normally wouldn't be a bus close enough. Maybe in the situation that you described, where someone lives fairly close to a school, but they're not in that school's boundary, that could possibly happen. But really that's the only way that they would have transportation to a school to which they're permitting.

Caleb Olson:
Exactly. Parents are always able to ask and to make a space available application for busing. They would need to wait until the school year started and ask for that application at the school, because it takes a little bit into the school year to really finalize those bus routes and how many students we have riding. But for the average student on permit, they are responsible for their own transportation. That's not provided by the district.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let's say the school year's underway. A student is really not happy where they are and they'd like to switch to a different school after the school year has started. What's the permit process they would want to follow in that case?

Caleb Olson:
It's exactly the same as a student would be in applying for a permit right now, they would go to the permit application. They would fill one out. If it's after the start of the school year, I always encourage parents to reach the school and let them know that they've made an application because once the school year starts, a lot of schools aren't checking that as frequently, because we don't get very many. After the school year starts, they can certainly reach out to the school and ask. But the thing for parents to realize is a lot of our schools will have a waitlist. They'll have students who applied in December and January, who already have a spot on that waitlist. So those applications that come after the school year starts would go to the bottom of that waitlist. It doesn't mean it's impossible that they'll get a seat. It does mean that there are other students who would have a chance for a seat first, before it got to them.

Anthony Godfrey:
If, for whatever reason, a family feels strongly about being able to change schools, we can always find a spot for anyone to change schools. It just might not be their first choice, but they can call the principal or they can call some other schools in the area that might be on the way to work, where they could drop a student off, that sort of thing. We try to be as flexible as we can and as accommodating as we can to try to make sure that we honor parent and student choices.

Caleb Olson:
We have a lot of great schools in the district. So, like you said, there is a seat for everyone in the Jordan School District. It just may not always be at the first school you think of. We have principals who've done a great job at helping to find seats or getting families in touch with individuals who can help them to find those seats. But they just may need to be a little more flexible if they're looking for a new start or a school to begin over at. It may not be their first choice, but there will be a school that will be available to give them a seat.

Anthony Godfrey:
Sure. And sometimes it's just about matchups. You know, great schools can be even better for one student versus another. It's just finding that right teacher in that right school and the right fit. If anyone has a question about permits, where can they go for answers?

Caleb Olson:
The best place they can go would be to talk to the school they're interested in applying for a permit at. There are staff at each of the district schools who process permits and are familiar with the system and they can answer questions. If a family feels like they have kind of a unique situation, or maybe their circumstances are a little bit different, they're certainly welcome to call the district office and ask for Student Services. We can help them troubleshoot their permit questions in those circumstances.

Anthony Godfrey:
We haven't done this for quite a while, but at the beginning of the podcast, we used to play Two Truths and a Lie at the end of the podcast, you tell me two things about your life that are true and one thing that's a lie, and I try to detect which one is the lie. I thought about this game again, because I think you would be a worthy opponent in Two Truths and a Lie. So Caleb, I'm interested in knowing some things about your life plus a lie. Let's hear it.

Caleb Olson:

So let me give you a couple and we'll see how good you are at figuring it out. I can slam dunk a basketball.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, wait a minute. You said that present tense, right? I can slam dunk a basketball. 

Caleb Olson:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Caleb, I feel like with you, I have to define a few more things too. This is a 10 foot rim. 

Caleb:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Caleb Olson:
Regulation. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. All right. 

Caleb Olsen:
Not in dress shoes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Measured just like in Hoosiers, it's the same thing, right? 

Caleb Olson:
Exactly. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Caleb Olson:
I can speak Japanese.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Caleb Olson:
And I have a collection of Mr. Potato Heads from a variety of entertainment properties.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. I can narrow this because I have seen that Mr. Potato Head collection and it is really something.

Caleb Olson:
I gave you an easy one.

Anthony Godfrey:
Japanese or dunking. I feel like you can do both of them at the same time. I just feel you're capable of all of that. You know what I'm gonna say, that you cannot dunk a basketball.

Caleb Olson:
Unfortunately, you are correct.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, Caleb. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted to be wrong.

Caleb Olson:
And I've always wanted to be able to dunk basketball.

Anthony Godfrey:
So, you know, I'm not good at any sports. But if I could be good at one, it would be basketball and dunking on someone has got to be a singular feeling.

Caleb Olson:
I'm sure it feels spectacular. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, you and I will keep reaching for the stars. <laugh> 

Caleb Olson:
Always have to have a dream. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's right, Caleb. Thanks again for all your hard work. You do a great job and we really appreciate the information about permits. 

Caleb Olson:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for permitting us to share another episode of the Supercast with you. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

Share the Supercast!