Your kids are in the perfect school. But your family is not in the perfect house.
Maybe you have outgrown your starter home, or you have finally saved up the downpayment so you can move out of a rental and purchase a home.
Either way, you have to consider where the school district’s zones are if you want to stay in the same school.
The best way your child can stay in the same school within your school district if you move within the boundary of that feeds to that school. If you stay in the district but move out of the boundary, many schools will let your child complete the year, but they will have to change schools the following year.
Of course, there are district transfers, private schools, and special education programs, and magnet schools to consider.
Continue on for details to help you make the best decision for your family about how to move and stay in the same school.
Staying in the Same School District
If you want your child to stay in the same school and the schools that it feeds to, the easiest way to ensure this option is to move within the same school zones.
Sometimes, this zoning is surprising, so contact your school district’s central office or check on their website for a map that delineates which addresses feed each school.
If you have to move outside of the school zone that your school currently draws from, you can petition the school district to allow your student to stay in the school for the remainder of the school year.
Most schools are willing to accommodate this request, however, when the next year rolls around, your student will need to transfer to the new school.
Remember that multiple elementary and junior high schools feed to one high school, so even if your child needs to attend a different school for a year or two, they will be reunited with their friends in junior high or high school.
Some school districts allow for permanent transfers within the district. For example, If your child’s after-school caregiver, like a grandparent, lives close to your preferred school, you may be able to use that as a reason to transfer.
Transfers between schools in a district require the family to meet the criteria set up by the school district, approval of the principal at the receiving school, and generally, the student must have good grades, attendance, and successful test scores.
Students with behavioral problems are not likely to be approved for transfer.
Special Education Concerns
One special situation to consider is students in special education programs.
Rest assured that if you do have to change schools, the faculty and staff at the new school will meet with you to review your student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and will work for your student’s best interest and educational experience.
There are some special cases, however. Some districts, especially smaller ones, funnel students with similar needs to one school.
For example, all students who are deaf or hard of hearing might attend the same school so that the staff can specialize in teaching those students.
In this case, your child will most likely go to that school regardless of where you live in the district.
Moving to a Different School District
Sometimes we find that we have to move to a different school district, perhaps in a nearby town.
If this is your situation, keeping your student in the same school is a bit more difficult, but not impossible.
You will need to discuss with the district office about how to apply to transfer between districts.
It is a complex process, and you are likely to encounter some reluctance from the districts. The transfer process generally includes a packet of paperwork, and it may take some time for approval, so start early.
It will often require approval or a letter from the principal of the school you wish to stay in.
Again, students who have excellent behavior, attendance, good grades, and good scores on standardized tests are more likely to be accepted as transfers.
Public schools receive money from state agencies and local property taxes based on enrollment and attendance.
When a student transfers between districts, the district you live in is responsible for paying for your child’s education and must forward those funds to the district your child is transferring into.
One thing to consider about this transferring of funds is that small districts need the money and are more likely to accept out-of-district transfers than larger districts.
Even if you meet all of the requirements for transferring, the receiving district may ask for a fee to process your transfer.
Long Distance Moves
In some cases, you have to move so far away that staying in the same school or district is impossible.
However, some students, like high school juniors and seniors, want to finish their school career where they began.
In these cases, you may allow your teen to live with a relative or close family friend to complete high school.
If you choose this route, be sure to take the legal steps to give the local family temporary guardianship of the student. This information needs to be updated with the school as well.
Alternative Solutions for Moving and Staying in the Same School
Many public school districts have magnet schools at the high school level. These are schools that cover all the state requirements for education, but they also focus on specific subject areas.
Your district may have a school that focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), preparing students for the medical field, or performing arts.
All students in one district, regardless of their address, can apply to the magnet schools within the district.
So if your child already attends a magnet school, and you are moving across town, you do not need to worry.
Just update your address with the school, and your child will continue to attend the magnet school.
Charter schools function as public schools. They must adhere to all of the state regulations for course content and state testing.
They also do not charge tuition. Any student who lives in the municipal school district is eligible to apply for the charter school.
Because of their charter, they can be particular about the students they accept into the school.
Frequently, they insist on the same requirements as transfer students: solid grades, good attendance, no discipline problems, and successful scores on state standardized tests.
Much like magnet schools, your address will not matter if your child attends a charter school.
You can safely move within the district or area and keep your student enrolled in the school. Be sure to check with the school’s administration office to see which addresses their “district” lines include.
If your child is in a private school, one in which you pay tuition, where you live does not matter.
Just remember that you have to make the drive to school at least twice a day, and more on days that have after-school practice, performances, and games.
A long commute to school can be tiresome and cuts into family time.
Work for the Target School
Many school districts make exceptions for students whose parent works in the district or the school.
This may be a good solution for transferring between schools within a district and for transferring students between districts.
Some school districts allow students to attend the school where their parent works. This is especially true for small districts and for popular schools that do not usually accept transfer students.
Other Considerations for Staying in the Same School after Moving
Students are considered to reside with their custodial parents. So if your move is due to divorce, the student’s school address will be with the parent the court has assigned primary custody to.
Student addresses are based on physical addresses, not P.O. Boxes. You can’t move and rent a P.O. Box to try and maintain an address in that district. P.O. boxes don’t pay property taxes so they don’t feed into the school system.
Students who are considered to be homeless will receive special dispensations from the school district.
Check with your school for details on maintaining school enrollment during homelessness. Most schools will try to keep your students in the same school to provide stability.
Remember that school district lines are drawn to maintain balance and reasonable class sizes.
While we all want the best for our children, we still need to consider whether transferring to the biggest school in the district will be the best for them.
Overcrowding in schools and large class sizes makes it difficult for teachers to give your child the individual attention they need to thrive at school.
Attendance and Moving
We all know that moving takes time and you may wonder how many days your child can miss school when you move.
If you are able to move in town and stay in your school, you should adhere to the attendance policy in general for how many days a student can miss.
If a student misses too many school days, they may lose a credit or have to attend evening or Saturday classes to make up the days.
If you are moving a long distance, and you do have to change schools, be sure to communicate with schools in both districts to ensure that your child will receive credit for the school year.
For example, If you have to move two weeks before your current high school releases for the semester, you should be sure to enroll and attend classes for the rest of the semester in the new high school.
Otherwise, your student may lose credit for that semester. Communication is the key to a successful transfer.
The easiest way to ensure that your child stays in the same school after you move is to check your school’s zoning and move within that zone.
If that is not a possibility, check with your school district about your child remaining in their school through the end of the year, then transferring for the next school year.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.