An open enrollment school is a neighborhood school that offers another option to parents and students who are interested in schools outside of their attendance area. Open enrollment schools have neighborhood attendance boundaries and give priority to students who live within the attendance boundary. They do not offer a magnet program, but open enrollment schools offer a wide variety of programs and activities to enrich their curriculum. In addition to enrolling attendance area students, open enrollment schools accept students from outside the attendance area, through a computerized lottery, if space is available.
Open enrollment schools were first introduced in the Chicago Public Schools in the 1994-1995 school year, in response to a requirement in the School Code of Illinois that directed the Chicago Board of Education to develop a plan that offered the opportunity for parents to apply to any Chicago public school with available space and no academic entrance requirements. Prior to that time, parents could only apply to magnet schools and neighborhood schools with magnet programs. The creation of the open enrollment schools has expanded the variety of options available to parents and students citywide.