I had a conversation today with Tracy Libros, District Manager of Planning and Enrollment, about how waitlists work. I had called specifically about Roosevelt but this is how it works for all schools. (I had called on Friday, she called me back at 9:15 p.m. on Friday night and said to try again on Saturday. I did but didn't reach her and figured I'd call her Monday. She called me at 2:00 on Sunday. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was trying to find placements for every child. That's dedication.)
Yes, the waitlist is ordered by tiebreakers. Meaning, it is all the on-time enrollments, sorted by tiebreakers, after the school has filled (more on that later). So, if there were any sibs that didn't get in, they would be first in line on the list. (This rarely happens except in certain programs.) Then, the distance tiebreakers come on the list in the order of closest to farthest.
For schools with waitlists, the school moves its list as room appears. However, district staff call each of those schools once a week to check the waitlist status and space at the school. The waitlist is dissolved on Oct.31.
After that date, any spaces that open up at any school that is full are given to new applicants to SPS. Meaning, you can't just wait till Nov. 1 and come in and apply again. Any room is given only to new enrollees to our school district. (I find this more fair than holding set-aside seats in case anyone new moves to the district. I'd rather fill up the schools with on-time applicants who are here now.)
Now, if you were a private school parent trying to game the system, you could try to get up early on Nov. 1, run to the Enrollment Center, and hope there was space at a school you want for your child. That could get you into TOPS or John Stanford or Roosevelt but that's a lot of ifs. If you had nothing to lose i.e. you already have your child enrolled somewhere and you want to try this, well, okay. But there would be no guarantee there would be a single space when you got there at 9 am on Nov. 1.
In November school send in their projected capacity numbers that they want for the next year and then there are discussions with the district about programs and capacity. So that "capacity" number is somewhat fluid depending on those discussions.
Now recalling someone here wrote that they knew of someone who got in and wasn't on the waitlist, well, that's probably a principal issue. I'd be willing to bet that the district policy isn't adhered to, for whatever reason, by every school. Every PTA should put this in their first issue so parents all know the policy and it lets the principals know the parents know the policy. I think it is also possible for every parent with a student on a waitlist to know where their student is on it and how long the list is.
By the way, the current waitlist at Roosevelt is 346 with 232 on that list being freshman. The list at been at about 425 so it has moved considerably. I'll be interested to see what the number is Oct. 31 as I had been told Roosevelt would not grow from its current 1700.