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Registering Your Child For School in the Orlando Area

Finding the right school for your child when relocating is a scary and stressful time, but it can be done with a clear head and tons of patience.  The key to finding the best school for your child is to research the area, the school, and its educational merit.  Is the school safe? Is it going to fit your child’s special needs? Here is our experience thus far with the Osceola County School District and directly with the Celebration Middle and High Schools – we hope it helps you when it comes time for you to do the same.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what school or schools you are looking at sending your kids to.  (Under the “Relocation Information” tab on our blog, there is a link to Schools). I know what you are thinking “I don’t know where I am moving to yet, so how can I know where to send my kids?” We know, we have been in those very same shoes, and said the VERY same thing.  Here is the catch –  if you find a school you fall in love with and you are sure it’s the one for your family, then either hope you can find a rental or permanent home nearby, or you will need to school choice your child into that school if you live in another District or Zone.

“School Choice” is exactly as it sounds, you have the right to choose the school you want for your children here.  The only catch is that you have to submit a form to your county school district for approval for your child to attend that school. We had a deadline of June 1st, so we were happy that we looked into it before we left WI or we would have missed the deadline and Emily would have had to go to the school in the zone we live in.  Kyra lives in the Celebration zone, Emily does not.  Emily was accepted, and you need to save the acceptance letter for when you register your child. Typically, as long as there is room in the school, they will accept the application.

Also keep in mind if you school choice your child in that it usually means you will have a bit of a drive to get your child to school.  Now because Emily and Kyra’s schools are pretty close to each other, it’s only about a 8 minute drive for us – ending if I take I4 or 192.  You have to keep traffic in mind with going to school every day as well – most home towns don’t have the amount of traffic the Orlando area has, and unless you live right near the school, you will most likely have to deal with it. If you are attending a school that is out of the district that you live in, there will be no busses available to that school.

The word on the street here is that most of the schools will be ok, but to avoid the Orange County schools at all costs.  You do have the option of Private Schools and also having your child take school Online, as well as some home school their kids.  We came from an area in WI where most of the schools were excellent and that public school was the norm for most kids- it seems to be the opposite down here.  Again, it is what we have been told, not experienced ourselves. If you have kids who attend a Central FL school, we would love to hear your experience on them.

Upon registering, there is paperwork you must have, and they are completely strict on this.  I recently registered Emily this morning at Celebration K-8, and the process of handing the paperwork in and filling out her registration papers was painless. That being said, Craig got the necessary paperwork together, which was its own personal nightmare.

You must have these items to register your grade school child:

  1. A Physical Form – Filled out by your Doctor.
  2. Up To Date Immunization Records- transferred to FL-680 Blue forrm.
  3. Approval Letter, if needed, for School Choice.
  4. Most Recent Report Card from Last School.
  5. Lease from current residence, or mortgage.
  6. Current Utility Bill to prove residency.
  7. Social Security Number of student.

               You must have these items to register your child for High School:

  1. A Physical Form – Filled out by your Doctor.
  2. Up To Date Immunization Records- transferred to FL-680 Blue forrm.
  3. Approval Letter, if needed, for School Choice.
  4. Most Recent Report Card  / Transcript from last school.
  5. Withdrawal form from previous High School, if child is transferring from another High School
  6. Lease from current residence, or mortgage.
  7. Current Utility Bill to prove residency.
  8. Social Security Number of student.
  9. Birth certificate of student.
  10. Parent ID or Drivers License.

A few specific notes on some of these items:

  • Physicals: Florida schools require students to have a physical every 12 months. If you have enough time before your move, you can have your local doctor perform the physical. The only paperwork needed is a note on their letterhead saying the student had a physical, the date, and signed by someone at the doctor office.
  • Immunizations: Every state has differing levels of immunizations. You can go to the counties health department website to see what is required for Florida, and if possible, again – you can get these done by your local doctor before you move. You can print out a list from your local doctor of what immunizations your child has received, but in order for it to be accepted at a Florida school, they have to be transferred to a FL-680 Blue form. Only a doctor or health care provider in the state of Florida can transfer the records to this form. If you happen to have a doctor right away, you can ask them to do it. Otherwise, any clinic or health department will do it for a fee. The Osceola County Health Department charges $5 per child, but they are very busy. I found a local emergency care clinic who charged $25 per child, but I got them to do it for $25 for both. If your child is missing a few, like Emily is, they will give you a temporary waiver to allow you to register your child. The immunizations have to be up to date by that time period (Typically two months) and you will need to have your FL-680 form updated that they are complete.
  • School Records. I had to have a withdrawal form and report card / transcripts from my daughters previous high school in order to register her for her new high school. There was a catch – WI law requires a formal request be filled out from the requesting party, in this case the new school. The new school said they were way to busy to do that, and it was my responsibility to get the forms. The high school in WI worked with me, and was able to fax the information right to the new school. If you can get these records from the old school before you leave, you are a step ahead.

Here is an interesting thing to think about if you are a new resident, who will be your emergency contact at school? If you are lucky, you have family or friends already in the area to use for that purpose, but if you don’t, it’s something to give some serious thought too.  I was able to put a friend’s name down who lives close to the school, but in all honesty, it was hard not putting my mom’s name down who had been that contact for many, many school years.

Getting back to the actual registration, like I had mentioned, it was painless.  She had received the fax of Emily’s physical form, and just had us fill in the registration form.  She made copies of the paperwork we had to bring in, and we were given the school calendar and open house dates.  We were told she will not receive her supply list for 6th Grade until the week before school- this was sad news for me.  I am used to buying her items from the end of July through August, stock piling them as I go.  To wait until school is almost here seems almost foolish since the supplies in the store will be down to nothing by that time.  I think I am going to pick up the normal pencils, pens, etc.. no matter what- you can’t beat the 25 cent pens and 10 cent erasers.  The kicker is that the same thing stands for Kyra as well- so I have to guess for 2 kids.

Kyra’s registration was more involved. A school counselor will have to evaluate what classes Kyra has already had in 9, 10, and 11th grade, and determine what requirements she will need for graduation. She then had to take a list of elective classes and order them 1 to 10 in order of what she wanted to take. The counselors will then, during the first two weeks of August, put together her schedule, and we will get it at the open house a week before school starts. We learned that thankfully priority is given to Seniors for class selection to make sure they have everything they need for graduation. Students have the ability to change classes within the first week or two if they feel they are in a wrong class, or the wrong level.

I was given information on uniforms as well- a new venture in the Petermann household.  Personally, as a Mom, I am happy both kids will have to wear certain colors.  It means that they will have their polo shirts and khaki or navy blue skirts and shorts for school, and the rest of their clothes they can enjoy for after school and the weekends.  I feel it helps socially for the kids to not have to compete with who has what cooler clothes- and it makes the kids look nicer too.  At least I can go and shop for their tops and bottoms now – can’t wait for their first day pictures! Information on what is required for uniforms can be found on the school and counties websites.

I hope this helps you have a pain free school registration process!

10 Comments »

  1. From what I can remember my sister saying, the schools in actual “Winter Park ” area are, and where we went to school when my siblings and I went to school, the “Lake Brantley” area in Altamonte Springs is still a decent place to go to school. Amy, I spent my middle school years and high school years in Altamonte Springs, and from what I still hear—-Lake Brantley’s still a good school. I don’t know anything about the Celebration area schools.

  2. Wow Amy,

    Alot of work is needed to transfer childern but I am thankful for you sharing this info. 😉

  3. I have no children and don’t plan to have any in the future, yet this was still a fascinating blog entry. Thanks, Ames!

  4. Having always lived in FL, I was still shocked at how much needed to be completed just moving within the state from county to county! All of the above was necessary just moving from Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Myers. By the way, the School Uniforms required in FL K-8 is a blessing in disguise! Not only for the parents, because we don’t spend a fortune, but for the children as they all look alike and no one knows how much or how little money they have so less descrimination. Wish it extended through High School in my county, but oh well. Thanks for the updates!

  5. great blog! here’s another side – My granddaughter was 18mths when she moved here so school not an issue, then. She started a great daycare program @ 2-3 yrs old where she learned her prek stuff. The VPK program (voluntary pre k) is great & free but she learned almost all her kindergarten here. We really liked her public school, in Osceola, but the teacher worked with her to keep her engaged as she was ahead of the class. In 1st grade, it was getting more difficult for her teacher, another really good one, to keep her engaged. There was the option of a gifted program BUT it was 1 afternoon a wk….that does nothing to keep a child engaged! She was then pulled & started home schooling. That concept was strange to me but a lot of research was done & I’m quite impressed with all the options, including fieldtrips, that are available.
    This is definitely not for everyone as it takes a lot more time & commitment from the parents. Also a stay/work at home wparent is a must. There are 4 options avaiable for home schooling. If you want to add info to your blog site, I’d be happy to go over all that with you.
    Keep up the great work. I always wished I had the time to do what you do with the blog but working 2 jobs for yrs….no way lol So I’ve always passed on info & answered questions 1on 1.

  6. Re: the school supply list coming later — I have the same issue EVERY year here in Connecticut. We just don’t get a list until school starts, and you know how that is… Everything is expensive by then, and picked over. I keep a plastic bin filled with notebooks (variety of colors), folders (plain colors), pens, highlighters, pencils, boxes of crayons, colored pencils, erasers, etc. that I pick up when they are dirt cheap, or with coupons, or at those really cheap sales going on right now. It makes life easier. My daughter “shops” in it to get ready for the school year, and then during the year when she needs stuff to replenish her school supplies, we already have it.

  7. Wow, sounds complicated and a little testing on the nerves! Hope everything goes well for Emily and Kyra when school starts xx

  8. I attended school in both Orange (elem and Jr High) and Seminole Co (High School). While I feel I received a good education and had a good experience overall, I would have no clue how the school systems in the area are now. This was a long time ago, I’m old – class of Lake Howell High School 1988. 🙂

    But let me tell you … you will LOVE uniforms! We had our first experience with this last year for our 2nd grader and Kinder and LOVE LOVE LOVE them. No fights in the morning over what they are wearing, the kids all look neat and clean and you can find them on clearance many times at at least half off if you can buy ahead!

    So interested to hear your thoughts on the Celebrations schools as the months progress.

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