School Choice

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The Colonial School District has prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) in an effort to give parents and the community a clearer understanding of our “choice” program which follows state and Board of Education guidelines.

How do I apply to choice?
  • Step One: Make sure your child is registered or pre-registered in a Delaware Public School. If you are entering school in Delaware for the first time, you must go to your assigned feeder school (in your home district) to complete this in-person process

If your child attended preschool in one of Delaware’s public school districts, s/he has already been registered.

The deadline for the choice application is 11:59 p.m. on January 8, 2020 to be considered for the Choice Lottery.

What is the deadline to submit an application?

Grades 1-12: First Monday in November through the 11:59 p.m. on the second Wednesday in January. Afterwards, School Choice is closed except for “Good Cause.”  


What about students entering Kindergarten?

Kindergarten: School Choice remains open until the first day of school provided there is available capacity.

  • During our annual School Choice Night event, we will have dedicated workstations available to complete online and paper registration.
  • Families who filed a Kindergarten ‘Choice’ application on or before the second Wednesday in January, will receive confirmation of the status of via email, seating availability after the February lottery. 
  • Note: Families who live outside the District will need to pre-register at their home school before registration can occur in Colonial.
We moved to the New Castle area after the closing date for "choice". What happens now?

We recognize that there are circumstances that may prevent families from meeting the deadline. Parents or guardians may apply for consideration after the second Wednesday in January if “good cause” exists.

“Good cause” is defined as:

  • A change in a child’s residence due to a change in family residence.
  • A change in the state in which the family residence is located.
  • A change in the marital status of the child’s parents.
  • A change caused by a guardianship proceeding.
  • Placement of a child in foster care.
  • Adoption.
  • Participation by a child in a foreign exchange program.
  • Participation by a child in a substance abuse or mental health treatment program.
  • Or a set of circumstances consistent with this definition of “good cause”.
When can I submit my application?

We will begin accepting applications the first Monday in November. We cannot accept applications prior to that date – they will be returned and must be resubmitted in the time allotted!

What is the application process?

The School Choice Application is available online. We highly recommend that parents use this format whenever possible.

If you do not have access to the internet or are nervous about this process, we invite you to apply from a dedicated workstation located in the Choice Office. Please call 302-323-2702  or email Choice Specialist, Ahtiya Johnson, (  in advance to set up a time that is mutually convenient. This ensures that help will be available to assist you if you encounter problems or have questions. After submitting the electronic application, you will receive an automatic email confirmation. And, in future years, if you continue to participate in the “choice” program, the online application will be quick and easy to update.

When will we know if our child will be assigned to a “choice” school?
  • Colonial School District will notify parents/guardians about the status of their application by the last Friday in February.
  • Students placed on a wait list will be invited to “choice” if openings become available. Waitlist are maintained until the first day of school.
  • Applications for “good cause” can be submitted after the deadline. Supporting Documentation for “good cause” is required and will determine processing. 
How are children selected to “choice” into a school?
  • Admission is based on the number of instructional seats (aka program capacity) available in a given year. Each school/grade has a capacity number that they are able to serve. If they are projected to be at or above 85% capacity, then no seats are available. If they are projected to be under capacity then invitations are sent. If the number of requests exceeds the number of available seats in a particular grade/school, a computer generated lottery randomly selects the “invitees” and places the remainder on a wait list.

Do my child’s accomplishments have any weight in getting an invitation?

No. Test scores, grades, athletic abilities, school and community activities do not have any influence on a random generated computer lottery to determine who gets invited or selected.

My child did not get their “choice” school. What can I do?

If you did not get an invitation to your choice school please contact the Choice Office about other options available in the Colonial School District. Be positive and encourage your student to have a good attitude regarding the next school year.

Why are some schools closed to “choice”?

Schools that are at or above their program capacity are not options for the “choice” program. If seats become available, the wait list will be used to fill them.

How is transportation handled?

If parents choose to send their student to a public school outside their district or attendance zone, they are responsible for getting that student to the school or to an existing bus stop located within that school’s feeder pattern.


Bus transportation will only be provided from an existing Colonial School Distirct bus stop serving that “choice” school and is dependent on bus seat capacity. If a bus is at capacity, we will recommend for families to transport students to/from school in their own vehicle. Notification about bus assignments will occur in mid-September.


Families are reminded that school bus stop supervision is the parent or guardian’s responsibility. A parent or guardian must be available to pick up or drop off your student at the assigned stop in the event of an early dismissal, late start, or other unforeseeable emergency.

Do I need to re-apply every year?

Once a student has been accepted at a “choice” school, he/she will be enrolled in that building until completion of that location’s grade-level configuration (i.e. K-5, 6-8, 9-12).* While enrolled as a “Choice” student, the student will have all the rights and responsibilities of a resident student until the end of that location’s grade-level configuration.


Moving from one school to another – The approval of a “choice” application for a school does not entitle the student to move to the school housing the next grade configuration. A timely choice application must be submitted in order for a student to be considered for enrollment in the school housing the next grade configuration.


*Please note: A student who fails to meet academic requirements, fails to comply with attendance policy requirements, or violates the Colonial School District Student Code of Conduct may be denied the return to a “choice” school. 

Do I need a separate application for every child in my family?

Yes, a separate application must be submitted for each student.


An application must be submitted for the sibling of a student already enrolled in a district school. A sibling is not granted automatic approval to attend a choice school.

Can I apply to more than one “choice” school?

The application process allows families to identify up to three options for “choice” schools in Colonial School District. Students will be assigned to the first school with availability. 


If a family strongly favors one location over all others, then you may wish to consider listing only that building on the “choice” application.


For example, a parent applies for their child to attend two buildings, with School A as the first option and School B as the second option. School A is over 85% capacity, but School B has space available. In this scenario, the student would be offered choice to School B and would not be placed on School A’s wait list. If the parent only applied to School A, they would be placed on School A’s wait list.

My student wants to play sports at your high school. Can he “choice” in?

We caution parents that the eligibility of transferring students is governed by the rules of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA). Before applying to “choice,” please review the DIAA Handbook or contact DIAA staff at (302-857-3365) to ensure that you are prepared to comply with these regulations.


If, after reading this information, you have additional questions about “choice” in Colonial School District, we encourage you to contact:

Colonial School Choice Office

Ms. Ahtiya Johnson, School Choice Specialist
c/o Colonial School District Administration Building
318 East Basin Road, New Castle, DE 19720
Phone – 302-323-2702
Fax – 302-323-2748

Colonial Early Education Program

Comprised of preschool aged children with and without identified disabilities all preschool classes are taught by Delaware state certified early childhood educators, and all have at least one paraeducator.  All classrooms have state certified speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, and/or physical therapists who work in the preschool classrooms. CEEP classrooms implement a developmentally appropriate educational curriculum which focuses on language, social, cognitive, fine motor, and large motor growth.

Mandarin Chinese and Spanish language immersion programs

Language immersion is an educational approach in which students are taught the curriculum content through a second language. Students receive math, science, and social studies instruction in a target language, such as Spanish or Chinese. Because of the teaching strategies used, students are able to develop literacy skills in both English and the target world language while attaining academic achievement that is at or above their grade level. In addition, students will develop  world cultural sensitivity. Language immersion is a wonderful vehicle to prepare our students academically, linguistically and socially for the challenges and needs of our global community.

Middle School

In an on-going effort to prepare students for the challenges of high school and beyond, the Colonial School District has redesigned our three existing middle schools.

Colonial’s approach to Middle School increases student engagement by providing a hands-on, relevant, and inquiry-based approach to learning.  Theme schools cultivate student interests and talents while building a sense of community and school spirit. The Middle School experience furthers the District’s mission to prepare every student to be college and career ready.

Colonial Middle Schools . . . 

  • Expand upon William Penn’s 20 college and career degree programs.
  •  Foster unique themes at each middle school.
  • Focus on the robust expectations of the Common Core State Standards 21st century learning and technology innovation.
  • Include educators, students, parents and community stakeholders in the planning process.

William Penn High School

William Penn High School is committed to helping our students understand, connect, and act on critical global issues by integrating 21st century skills and experiences through degree programs. Once the school year begins, students will receive their recommended courses to complete their major in four years. By the student’s junior year, they will be able to determine their “concentration” and refine their focus. By graduation, students will complete their degree programs, have had the opportunity to work with local businesses and apply for local college credits and trade certifications.

Humanities College Academy
• Behavioral Sciences
• Education
• International Studies
 Legal Studies
• Communications
  Visual & Performing Arts

Business College Academy
• Air Force Jr. ROTC
• Culinary Arts
• Financial Services
• Marketing
• Business Administration

STEM College Academy
• Agriculture
• Architecture & Interior Design
• Construction
• Engineering
• Allied Health
• Services
• Manufacturing
• Mathematics
• Science
• Information Technology