It’s a rite of passage most Newark families know well: choosing a public school for their child.
The process can feel exciting or stressful — often both at once — but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
The application process for the 2022-23 school year begins Saturday, when the district will post promotional videos for each school (what it’s calling a “virtual school fair”) and families can begin applying to their top choices.
Chalkbeat put together an application guide with key information and some changes to look out for this cycle. Here’s what Newark families need to know.
This year’s application process begins at 3 p.m. on Nov. 13 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 11.
Families must submit an application if their child is enrolling in school for the first time, in the final grade of their current school (for example, a preschooler who will start kindergarten next fall, or an eighth grader who will be starting high school), or wants to switch schools.
The enrollment guidebook, available online, provides information about the more than 70 traditional and charter schools that families can apply to through Newark Enrolls.Screenshot/Newark Public Schools
The way to apply to most public schools is through the Newark Enrolls website. All 60-plus schools run by Newark Public Schools and most charter schools participate in this unified application system, allowing families to apply to multiple schools with one application. A full list of participating schools is available online or in this guidebook.
(Note that a few charter schools — which are free, independently operated public schools — don’t participate in Newark Enrolls. Families must apply separately to those schools.)
Each family can apply to up to eight schools, which families rank in order of preference.
To get a feel for individual schools, families can call and set up visits, though they’ll be given virtually this year. Also, they can check out the school videos available on the Newark Enrolls website beginning Nov. 13.
“You can learn all about the incredible school choice options that are provided to you here in the great city of Newark,” district Superintendent Roger León said recently.
New options this year
Newark’s long list of public schools — more than 115 traditional and charter options — has gotten even longer in recent years.
Newark Public Schools opened three new campuses this fall: Michelle Obama Elementary School, offering pre-kindergarten to third grade; and Newark School of Data Science & Information Technology and Newark School of Fashion & Design, both enrolling grades 9-10.
Some Newark charter schools have also opened new campuses, including KIPP New Jersey and Great Oaks Legacy Charter School.
And now families can use Newark Enrolls to apply to a private school: Newark Boys Chorus School, a small, tuition-free all-boys school with a renowned choir.
One important consideration: The district’s newest high schools are selective, meaning the schools choose which students to admit based on their grades, test scores, attendance records, and other factors.
All told, 11 of the district’s 17 high schools have selective admissions; they include popular magnet schools, including Science Park and Technology, and specialized schools, such as Newark Vocational and Eagle Academy for Young Men.
In February, all Newark Public Schools eighth graders will take a standardized test that the selective high schools use in their admissions decisions. Non-district students interested in attending one of the selective high schools can also take the high school admissions test that month.
Charter school changes
Families will have a slightly easier time applying to charter schools this year.
During the last enrollment cycle, families had to submit documents proving they lived in Newark before they could apply to charter schools. Charter advocates protested the rule change, which they said violated state rules. The district, which manages the enrollment system, quietly rescinded the rule last spring. The upshot is that families, once again, don’t have to prove their Newark residency until after submitting applications.
“We commend Superintendent León and the district administrators for listening to families and schools, and ultimately fixing the issue,” said Kyle Rosenkrans, executive director of the New Jersey Children’s Foundation, which acts as an intermediary between Newark’s traditional and charter schools.
Last year, 9 of 17 charter school operators participated in Newark Enrolls. This year’s list is still being finalized, Rosenkrans said Friday, but he expects a similar number of charter schools to sign on.
The remaining charters, including sought-after schools such as Robert Treat Academy and Gray Charter School, run their own admissions lotteries. Families should check out those schools’ websites for more information.