Frequently Asked Questions

Will the new policy apply to all elementary grades, or just Kindergarten?

  • The new process for assigning students to elementary schools will apply to all requests for assignments for grades TK through 5th.

Will the new policy impact students who are already enrolled in elementary schools?

  • No, the new process for assigning students to elementary schools will not impact students who are already enrolled in an SFUSD elementary school.
  • The new policy will only affect students who are requesting a new elementary school assignment for 2025-26. This includes students who are new to SFUSD and currently enrolled students who want to change schools.

Will the new policy impact students applying to PreK?

  • No, the new process for assigning students to elementary schools will not impact  students applying to PreK program. 
  • PreK enrollment is governed by a different policy, which you can find here.

Can my younger child apply to my older child’s school and receive the sibling tiebreaker, even if their school is outside of their zone?

  • Yes, younger siblings will be allowed to apply to their older sibling’s school, even if it is outside of the family’s new zone boundaries. Younger siblings who are applying to an out-of-zone school where their older sibling is already enrolled still get a sibling tiebreaker.
  • The sibling tiebreaker will apply consistently to any elementary or K-8 schools where an older sibling attends, regardless of whether it is inside the new zone boundaries or outside them.
  • Students who live at the same address and have the same parent/guardian are considered siblings.

What is a zone?

  • A zone is a boundary that is drawn around a group of SFUSD elementary schools. 
  • Each student will be able to apply to any of the schools in the zone in which they reside. 
  • This is different from SFUSD’s current system, in which there are no zones and students can apply to any school in the district.
  • All zones will provide students with access to general education programs, language programs, and special education services. 

What does it mean that "all zones will provide students with access to language and special education programs"? Does that mean that language and special education programs will remain citywide, or will they be redistributed across the zones?

  • We know that no matter where you live, your child will have access to language and special education pathway programs in the district.
  • How we achieve this equitable access is one of the exciting collaborative decisions we are actively working on, involving SFUSD’s Multilingual Pathways, Special Education, and Transportation departments, the SFMTA, and our zone development research partners.
  • Working with these groups, and using feedback we heard from the community last fall, we will figure out the details of this equitable access plan before the new policy begins. Please stay tuned for more info!

Is a zone the same as an Attendance Area?

  • No. An Attendance Area is an area drawn around a single school that gives priority to students in the current district-wide choice system. 
  • The new student assignment policy will not use Attendance Areas. The new zones will contain multiple schools; students will only be able to apply to schools within their zone.

If my child is already enrolled in SFUSD when the new student assignment policy goes into effect in Fall 2024, will it be possible for them to apply to a school in my zone?

  • Yes, currently enrolled students will be able to apply to attend a different school in their new zone.
  • For all grades, seats are not guaranteed to any specific school in the zone. Students who apply can be assigned to their preferred school as long as space is available.

Will families be able to apply to schools outside their zone?

  • No, families will not be able to apply to schools outside of their zone because allowing some families to choose schools outside their zones would undermine SFUSD’s ability to achieve the policy goals of diversity, predictability, and proximity.
  • The only exceptions to this rule are for younger siblings who wish to attend the same school with an older sibling who is already enrolled, and for children of SFUSD site staff who wish to attend school at their parent’s work location.

If a child has an older sibling attending a school outside of their zone, will that child get a sibling priority to attend school with their older sibling?

  • Yes, younger siblings will be able to apply to the school where their older sibling is enrolled, even if it’s outside of their zone, and they will receive the Sibling tiebreaker for that school.
  • Siblings are students who live at the same address and have the same parent/guardian.

Will the new elementary school zones affect the current middle school feeder system?

  • Board Policy 5101.2 only affects elementary student assignment. There is currently no plan to change the middle (or high school) assignment system.
  • It is possible that we may need to make changes to the middle school feeder patterns once the elementary zones have been approved.
  • Any potential changes would be designed to provide all elementary students with a predictable path for grades K-8, and they would be reviewed and discussed with the community before they are finalized.

How is SFUSD drawing the zones?

  • SFUSD is using a set of guidelines described in the board policy to draw zones, such as: 
    • zones will be drawn to intentionally promote diversity; 
    • zones will take into account geography, traffic patterns, and community feedback;
    • all students in a zone will be guaranteed a school in that zone; and
    • zones will reduce the distance students must travel to attend school. 
  • For the complete set of guidelines, see page 3 of Board Policy 5101.2.

Will the zones ever change?

  • SFUSD will perform an annual assessment of the new student assignment system to evaluate whether any adjustments are needed to “better achieve the goals and objectives of this policy.”
  • This may or may not include adjusting the zones or other areas of the policy. (See page 5 of Board Policy 5101.2)
  • As neighborhood demographics shift, the zones may be revised to continue ensuring diversity, proximity, and predictability for all students.

This page was last updated on May 12, 2022