Understanding Public District Schools

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There are three major types of district schools

Neighborhood schools

Neighborhood Schools automatically admit students living within their neighborhood "catchment" boundaries. If you live within the neighborhood "catchment" boundaries, your student is automatically guaranteed a seat, with the exception of Kindergarten.

Use the district’s School Finder to find your designated neighborhood school.

You can also apply to transfer to a neighborhood school outside of your neighborhood (elementary/middle school or high school).

Citywide-admission schools 

Citywide-admission schools are open to any student living in Philadelphia. Students must typically complete a basic application and be entered into a lottery.

Citywide schools can be run by the district or by a charter school operator. Some charters use a lottery but reserve a certain number of slots for students living in a specified neighborhood zone. 

Special-admission schools 

Sometimes called magnet schools, these school have academic and behavioral requirements for admissions. They may also require additional materials such as essays or interviews as part of the application process. Any student living in Philadelphia can apply through the school district. These schools usually require an interview through the district's school selection process. 

To read more about applying to citywide-admission and special-admission schools, see “Applying to a Public Elementary or Middle School” or “Applying to a Public High School.”

More Information

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.