In 2017, Florida lawmakers passed a law that allows kids to attend any public school in the state, regardless of where they live.
The state joined 42 other states that have policies allowing students to attend a school outside of their resident district.
Andrew Campanella, a national school choice advocate, says most Florida school districts, including those in Tampa Bay, begin open enrollment in January.
"It used to be that if parents wanted to choose a new school for their child, this was a project for summer break,” he said. “But seats in schools for the 2018-2019 school year are already filling up."
Families seeking options outside their regular zoned schools will be competing for spaces into, among others, magnet schools, fundamental schools and career academies.
Although students are permitted to register for virtually any public school in the state, that does not guarantee admission.
In Florida, individual public school districts determine which, if any, of their schools have space available.
Campanella says families to be persistent if told that their first choice is full.
“So my advice in that situation is, ask a lot of questions and make sure there really are no seats available,” he said. “Do they have any seats on reserve? Ask if you can get on a list if a seat becomes available. Ask, ‘do you have another enrollment period throughout the year so I can be first on that list?
According to the Florida Department of Education, district and charter schools must list their capacity limits on their respective websites.