Applying to a Public School

Applying to a Public School

Students who are interested in applying to a specialized program or to a school outside of their catchment area will have to follow the specific requirements and unique admission criteria for each program. Application to these schools is made directly to each program through ‘Optional Attendance’. Acceptance at these schools is subject to space availability and program suitability. The procedures, conditions, and timelines relating to optional attendance are described in the Optional Attendance Policy and the Optional Attendance Operational Procedure.


Applying to a TDSB School Outside Your Neighbourhood

  • Students are permitted to apply to two regular programs outside of their residential area under Optional Attendance.
  • Each year in December, TDSB schools are classified as limited or closed to optional attendance based on the space they have available for the upcoming school year. You can find this information by finding the school in the TDSB Directory and clicking on ‘Optional Attendance’ in the left-hand menu bar.
  • A school classified as limited can accept students on optional attendance. A limited school is not obliged to accept all students who apply on optional attendance. Acceptance is conditional upon space being available in the appropriate grade and program. 
  • A school classified as closed cannot accept any students on optional attendance. Only students residing within the school’s attendance area will be accepted. 
  • If a school is classified as limited, and you are interested in applying to that school, please contact the school’s principal.


To apply to a school outside of your residential area, families will need to complete the Optional Attendance Form. Ensure you read the ‘Important Dates’ section, which is the last page of this document; these forms are typically due in late January. If necessary, a lottery will be held for available spaces, and families are notified if they have a space at the school by the end of February.


Applying to a Specialty/Alternative TDSB Program

Students are permitted to apply to two specialty programs under Optional Attendance. To apply to a Specialty Program or to an Alternative School within the TDSB, families will need to complete the Optional Attendance Form as well as the program-specific requirements that can be found on each school’s website. Depending on the program, these may include:

  • Personal statements written by the student about why they are interested in the program
  • A portfolio or evidence of their involvement in the specialty
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, and instructors
  • Report Cards
  • IEP
  • Entrance Test
  • Audition and/or interview

Each specialty school’s timeline is unique. Deadlines can range from early December to late January so be sure to take note of the dates provided on the school’s website. Montcrest teachers are available to help with preparation for portfolios and auditions, as well as with written recommendations; we do ask that you give teachers ample notice for preparing these recommendations. Families can also book a practise interview with Emma Stewart ( 1-2 weeks prior to the interview itself. Admission decisions are made by late February.


Applying to Schools in the TCDSB

Students are also able to apply to one Secondary School within the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). High schools throughout the TCDSB are open to all students residing in the City of Toronto, regardless of address. Placement is offered if there is space available.

The Parent Guide includes all of the information you will need to know to help you throughout the registration process. Once you are ready, you can register your child online through SOAR.

The TCDSB has an earlier timeline than the TDSB, and registration for both regular and specialty programs is typically due in late October. Just as with TDSB schools, Montcrest teachers are available to help with any admission preparation or requirements.


TDSB & TCDSB: Final Decisions and Course Selection

All decisions and offers to programs within both the TDSB and the TCDSB are made by late February. Families who have applied to public school programs should discuss a variety of possibilities.

For example: 

What would families do if they receive multiple offers?

  • Parents and children should have already ranked the schools that they would prefer to attend. This will simplify the decision-making process and will allow families to accept an offer within the given window of time and to notify other schools that their child will not be attending.

What would families do if they receive a single offer?

  • Parents will need to accept the offer.

What would families do if they do not receive an offer and are told they are on a waiting list?

  • Parents will need to decide if their child will attend their local TDSB high school or if they would like to contact Montcrest to learn about next steps. 

If families have decided to accept an offer from a specialized public school program or from a school outside of your neighbourhood, you should then call your local high school and ensure you have unenrolled your child for the next school year.

The final step in the registration process is Course Selection. Your child’s school will be in touch and provide you with the information or documents necessary to decide which classes they will take in Grade 9. While many courses are mandatory, there are several electives that students can choose between that differ depending on each school’s particular offerings. Dani Klein and Dawn Cohen are available to make suggestions for best-fit courses and to complete any parts of these documents that are required from the sending school (Montcrest).

We hope you have found this guide helpful in preparing you for the transition process. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For further information, please see Additional Resources

CIS Ontario