How do I apply?

You apply for a seat by submitting a lottery application online. To access the lottery application, you will need your child’s Student Identification Number and Personal Identification Number (PIN).  If you are a new CMS family, you must first complete the CMS registration process and a student ID and PIN will be sent to you via mail. If your child is a current CMS student, you will also receive a letter with your student’s ID number and PIN from your current school before each year’s lottery. Student ID numbers and PINs remain the same for each student year after year.

How are seats in School Choice allocated?

All available School Choice seats will be allocated across three socioeconomic status (SES) categories (high, medium, and low) to achieve the greatest socioeconomic diversity possible. Each student will have priority for one of these categories based on home address and data families will be asked to provide during the lottery application. To see the SES distribution across Mecklenburg County per the 2020 Census, click here.

What are the guarantees and priorities that impact the allocation of seats?

Continuation guarantee – Once their grade level is complete, current magnet students are automatically advanced to the next level of the magnet theme. The Sibling guarantee – Applicants who are seeking placement to join an older sibling at a magnet school will also be allocated seats. Transportation Zone priority – applicants who live inside the transportation zone of the school to which they are applying are given priority over those who do not live in that zone. Proximity Priority (not a guarantee) – A certain number of seats are allocated to families who life within a 1/3 mile radius of a school that does NOT have a neighborhood attendance boundary.

What documentation do I need in order to submit my application for the School Choice lottery?

You must first register your student in CMS. Once registered, parents/legal guardians/ custodians will need the student’s ID Number and PIN to submit a lottery application. This ID number is located on the student’s report card or progress report or may be obtained at the student’s school.

Are there any pre-kindergarten options?

Yes, elementary Montessori programs begin at Pre-K: Park Road, Chantilly, Highland Mill, and Lincoln Heights. 

Does it cost anything to apply to the School Choice lottery?

No. The CMS School Choice lottery is free and open for all CMS families to apply.

If my child gets a School Choice seat, do I have to reapply every year?

No. Once you are accepted and assigned to a school, you do not have to reapply. If a student is assigned to a School Choice seat, the assignment is good for the duration of all grades at that school, if the student lives in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and meets all continuation requirements.  Some schools also have automatic continuation that allows students to advance to the next level of the magnet theme  (for example elementary to middle school and middle school to high school)

What if my child moves or withdraws from a School Choice program?

A student who withdraws from a program loses their seat at that school. The family would need to re-register with CMS and they would be re-assigned to their home school (if they reside in Mecklenburg County).  In order to return to a magnet program the family would need to engage in the lottery process again.

How many schools can I select on my application?

You may select up to three. Preferences must be ranked by the applicant in order of which is desired most. School Performance Priority families who are assigned to a home school that has been placed the low performing school list for three or more years, may have up to three additional home school options available on their lottery application.   

How will I know that my School Choice application has been received?

At the end of the School Choice application, you will see a confirmation page containing a confirmation number.  Please either print/screenshot this page or write down the confirmation number as your proof of application completion.

Can I submit a second lottery application?

Yes; however, your first lottery application will be voided. We do not recommend submitting a second application unless you certainly want to change your preferences. Please note: changes to your child’s records during the lottery application period (such as change of address, grade level or status) will also result in a voided application.  If you make any such changes after submitting a lottery application, you will need to submit a new application to align to your child’s updated information.  

How will my child get to/from school if they are assigned to a School Choice seat?

Transportation is provided if you obtain a seat within your transportation zone AND the school you selected serves your feeder pattern. These stops are routed based on your home address. If you apply to a school outside of your transportation zone OR outside of your feeder pattern, you will need to provide transportation for your child.  To ensure that a school serves your zone AND your feeder pattern, be sure to refer to the color chart on our themes and schools page and reference any footnotes attached to your schools if interest. 

Do siblings get priority?

Yes. The CMS sibling guarantee ensures placement of a younger sibling into the same school or program as an older sibling in every school except for Early Colleges and Middle Colleges. In instances where there is more than one program at a school, the sibling guarantee applies to a magnet program at the same campus, but does not require that the siblings register in the same program. In order to take advantage of the sibling guarantee: Only the older sibling can draw in a younger sibling and the older sibling must still be attending the school of choice. Families MUST participate in the lottery for the younger sibling. Siblings must have the exact same matching address. Families must select the older sibling’s school as the younger sibling’s number 1 and only choice.

If I complete and submit my lottery application at the beginning of the application period, will my child have a better chance of being assigned through the lottery process?

No. All applications are processed simultaneously, after the lottery window closes.  

Can a student residing outside of Mecklenburg County apply for the School Choice lottery?

No. If your address falls outside Mecklenburg County, you cannot apply in the School Choice lottery.

What if my child attends a School Performance Priority (SPP) school?

Students attending a school designated by the state as low performing for three consecutive years have an additional priority in the lottery. They may use the lottery to select up to three alternate home schools and three School Choice preferences.

How do I transfer to another school?

Transfers are processed by Student Placement; you can read instructions and access the transfer portal here:  You can find transfer instructions here: