How to Apply to the METCO Program Lottery
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What is METCO?
The purpose of the state-funded METCO program (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) is to expand educational opportunities, increase diversity, and reduce racial isolation by permitting students from Boston to attend public schools in other communities that have agreed to participate.
Since its founding, the METCO program has enrolled tens of thousands of Boston students of color in participating school districts and has provided the opportunity for students in those districts to experience the advantages of learning and working in a racially and ethnically diverse setting. METCO is the largest volunteer school desegregation program in the country.
Any Boston resident entering kindergarten through grade 10 may apply to be enrolled in METCO, and acceptance into the program is determined by a lottery. There are several lotteries throughout the year, and families are encouraged to apply as early as they are able.
For more information on the application, lottery, and participating public school districts, please visit the METCO website.
Frequently Asked Questions about METCO
What is the history of METCO and how is the program funded?
In 1965, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 76, Section 12A gave city and town school committees and districts the right to “help alleviate racial isolation” and “racial imbalance” by placing children who reside elsewhere in their schools. “Racial isolation” is defined as occurring when a school population is more than 70% white.
METCO, Inc. (HQ) has been the service provider for this placement since 1966 and the state legislator allocates funding every year. Grants are then administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Districts also receive Chapter 70 funding for each student enrolled.
Why is METCO now using a lottery?
When METCO was designed in 1966, there were no personal computers, internet, or smartphones. Until now, much of the application process has been on paper and families would sign up their newborns in person and wait for years on a waiting list of thousands.
Now, a lottery application process ensures equal odds for families in a wider range of communities, including recent Boston residents. At the end of the application period, every eligible, verified student has an equal chance to be referred to a METCO partner district through a random lottery.
Do students choose which city or town where they can attend school?
Parents can rank up to three school districts in the METCO application.
Is METCO an income-based program?
No. The application, referral, and placement process does not ask you any information about your income.
My child has special education needs. Can we still apply to METCO?
Yes. All students who are at least 5 years old (by August 31) and entering grades K2 through 10 who live in Boston are eligible to apply to the METCO program.
When does our family find out if our child has been placed in a school?
METCO partner districts extend placement offers from January through October. Students can receive METCO placement offers after the school year has already begun. As such, Boston School Finder recommends every family applying to METCO should also register and apply for other Boston school options. Our School Registration Toolkit can help you get started exploring your Boston school options.
Do I have to pay for transportation to my METCO school?
No. METCO partner districts provide buses to their schools from a limited number of bus stops in Boston, with locations primarily in the Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury neighborhoods. Families are responsible for providing transportation to and from these bus stops.
My family applied last year and/or my child was placed on the METCO Waitlist. Do we have to apply this year?
Yes. You must apply for the METCO Lottery every year if you do not receive placement into a METCO partner school the previous year.
For more answers to Frequently Asked Questions about METCO, please visit the METCO website.
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