Navigating the Pinellas County Public School System
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the public school options and application processes, don't fret. We're sharing all of the info to make enrollment during the 2020-2021 school year a little less stressful.
Pinellas County Schools serve over 100,000 students in more than 140 schools located throughout the county, making it the 8th largest school district in Florida and the 27th largest in the country. With so many public school options — including neighborhood schools, choice programs, special assignment, and more — finding a school that suits your child's needs may seem like a daunting, albeit important, task. Here's a look at some of the school options, how to apply, and important dates for enrollment.
This article was originally published on Jan. 9, 2019, and has been updated for the 2020-2021 school year.
Option 1: Zoned Neighborhood Schools
Pinellas County is divided into zones, and each public school is assigned a zone. Your child is guaranteed a seat in a public school for which your address is zoned. To find your school zone, visit https://www.pcsb.org/domain/3106.
Kindergarten and new student registration at neighborhood schools begin January 13, 2020. To reserve a seat at your zoned school, you must first obtain a user ID and password by visiting any Pinellas County School (if you don't already have one for another child in your family) and entering your child's information into the Student Reservation system. Registration must be completed by May 29, 2020 by bringing in all necessary documents to the school.
Learn more by attending Ready, Set...Kindergarten at your zoned school January 14 - 16, 2020. At these events, your family can explore the classrooms, meet teachers, and discover all of the programs the school may offer.
Option 2: District Application Programs
Pinellas County Schools offer nearly 80 application programs suited to students' interests, talents, and abilities including career, magnet, and fundamental programs at elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Acceptance to these schools and programs occurs via online lottery, and odds of acceptance vary by school.
The application period for choice schools is January 8 - 17, 2020. The district is offering three Parent Application Assistance Nights to help families with the application process. Application Assistance Nights will take place:
Jan. 9, 5:30 to 7:00pm at Garrison-Jones Elementary School, Dunedin
Jan. 14, 5:30 to 7:00pm at Gibbs High School, St. Petersburg
Jan. 16, 4:30 to 7:00pm at the Student Assignment Office, Largo
The acceptance period for District Application Programs is February 10 - 21, 2020. During this time period, you must accept the invitation for your child to reserve a seat at the school. If you do not receive an invitation, your child will be assigned a waitlist number and other arrangements may need to be made. To learn more about choice schools and the lottery process, visit here.
Option 3: Special Assignment Requests
If you would like your child to attend a neighborhood school (not a choice school) for which you are not zoned, you may apply for a Special Assignment Request. These requests are granted on a space-available basis. The initial SAR application period is April 1 - 15, 2020, and the late SAR application period is April 27 - July 12, 2020. Learn more here.
Option 4: Exceptional Student Education
The district offers placement of students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) requiring Exceptional Student Education services at select schools. This includes both students with disabilities and students who are gifted. Learn more here.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) at select Pinellas County elementary schools is available for children who will be four years old on or before September 1, 2020. The program follows the school calendar and schedule with a tuition fee of $65 per week.
The VPK application period is January 20 - 31, 2020. To apply, you must have a user ID and password obtained from any Pinellas County School (if you do not have one for another child in your family). You will also be required to submit a VPK Certificate of Eligibility (voucher) upon enrollment. Get your voucher here.
Application results will be available beginning February 24, 2020. A seat must be accepted by March 6, 2020. The enrollment period is March 23 - April 3, 2020. Learn more about the VPK application process and eligible schools here.
(Pre-K3 information has not been updated on the PCSB website as of Jan. 3, 2020.)