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Choosing OOZ

DONNELLE BELANGER-TAYLOR
Last updated 11:55 02/11/2012

There's been a lot of stressed parents around my area in the last month; I've been one of them. It's out-of-zone (OOZ) school ballot time.

Each year around this time, some parents anxiously fill out application forms and wait to see if they've been accepted.

Their kids might turn five in the next twelve months, or they might be looking for a new school. Most parents do send their kids to their zoned school, which of course is how the system is intended to work. Sometimes, though, the local school just isn't a good fit, for whatever reason.

If your local area isn't in a boom, you might be guaranteed to get in, even out-of-zone. Around our way, though, there's a lot of developments and population growth. Most schools had no OOZ spaces at all, or only for new entrants. 

I know a few other families who have opted to go OOZ. One applied to five schools and was accepted at two. Lucky them; they get to choose.

Another family were unlucky in every single ballot. They are now frantically trying to find a way to move in zone for their preferred school. I have my fingers crossed that they won't have to. My niece was originally not accepted OOZ at her school, but managed to get in from number 30 on the wait-list.

I had my hopes pinned on two schools. One of them turned out to only have OOZ spaces for six new entrants. One down, one to go. I crossed my fingers, hoped, and stressed.

Would we have to move? Could we afford it? Would I have to go back to work? Could I find daycare for twins that wouldn't make that a financially negative plan? What about waiting lists for daycare? I didn't want to move. What if? What if?

I was so relieved and thankful when we found out that we made it in on the ballot.

Why do people choose to go out-of-zone? 

In our case, our eldest had two years at the local school and really struggled. We chose to homeschool him just for this year, to address some of his areas of weakness, and to give us time to find a school that will hopefully be better suited to his learning needs.

Ideally, all schools would be a good match for all kids, but our experience and many others shows that's just not true.

Did you choose to send your kids to an out-of-zone school? Why?

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