Video: How to find a middle school
Video: A guide to private schools
By GreatSchools Staff
When Annie Gentil and her husband set out to register their son for a Milwaukee area public school for 2010-2011, they found the experience especially frustrating. "It has been a ridiculous process filled with poor communication," said Gentil.
As with roughly a third of Wisconsin's school districts, Milwaukee's offers separate kindergarten programs for 4- and 5-year-olds. When a "5K" teacher was laid off at the family's neighborhood school, 95th Street Elementary (GS rating 3), the Gentils' son was placed on a waiting list and eventually assigned to Emerson(GS rating 1), a school in another neighborhood across town. But Gentil admitted her situation could have been worse, as a neighbor's daughter was not admitted to any school and remained on a waiting list. "There's really no appeals process," said Gentil. "All you can do is wait it out."
Enrolling a child in a large public school district — especially one as complex and diverse as Milwaukee's — can sometimes feel like a Herculean task. But there's a method to the madness — or, at least, approaching the process methodically can prevent some of the frustration.
Researching Milwaukee schools
While you're searching for a school, it helps to begin with your community and those people who know your child. Talk to your friends and neighbors for their ideas about local schools and what makes sense for your child. After learning what you can from your community, begin a search on GreatSchools.org, browsing schools to find out more about ones you've heard about.
GreatSchools has a local program based in Milwaukee to help parents make informed choices about school, including free, local workshops and a hot line (414-297-9715). The GreatSchools Milwaukee site offers in-depth information for parents interested in enrolling their children in the area's schools. GreatSchools' Milwaukee School Chooser is a handy, exhaustive guide that outlines the choices available to parents in the clearest possible terms — including a guide to school visits and indexes of schools according to high test scores and thematic curriculum. You can download it here or pick it up at school fairs or GreatSchools workshops.
Milwaukee's schools give priority to families registering a child for their neighborhood (or "attendance area") school. Families list their top three choices, and, according to the district's website, the great majority of students get into the school they want.
School admissions are determined based on the number of kids who apply. For the 2009-2010 school year, 94 percent of new students were assigned to the school they listed as their first choice, and 99 percent got into either a first-, second-, or third-choice school.
But what makes Milwaukee's school system special — and potentially so complicated — is that there are many options beyond the neighborhood school.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.