Parents, it’s time to dig out your child’s old report cards and standardized test results.

The mad dash to get your child into one of the most coveted of Shelby County School district’s schools starts Jan. 27, Shelby administrators announced this week.

On that day, at 6:30 a.m., the district will start handing out bar-coded applications for Shelby County’s optional schools, which house some of the district’s most rigorous arts, engineering, math and science magnet programs.

How soon you pick up that application will weigh heavily in whether or not your child gets into the optional school of your choice. In the past, parents have camped out days before the 6:30 a.m. deadline in order to better their child’s chances of getting into the school they prefer, though a district spokesman said that officially, parents are encouraged not to camp by the building.

The applications, most of which involve submitting your child’s most-recent report card, their Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, results, and a copy of their social security card,  will be due by 5 p.m. on Jan. 31. Parents of kindergartners will have to provide their child’s birth certificates.

If a parent misses that deadline, their application will be placed in the back of a package of applications.

Other than how soon parents pick up the applications, the district will judge applicants based on where they live, if they have a sibling at the school and their recent academic performance.  

The district does not require parents who live in a school’s “geographical zoned boundary” or whose children already attend their preferred school to go through the application process.

Parents can still apply through the first day of school this August with non bar-coded applications, although their chances of getting into the more competitive programs will be less likely.

There are some 48 optional programs in Shelby County Schools, some which are programs within a school, some of which are standalone schools. The district is also adding a new program in the building that currently houses Fairview middle school and at the three schools that are within the borders of Germantown.

Students from nearby counties in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee can also apply. Some 325 students from outside the district were attending optional programs in a recent school year, according to a district spokesman. Many parents apply in hopes of securing a spot for their child in one most-coveted schools, which include Snowden K-8 and White Station High School.

Open houses for the optional schools have already begun. Earlier this week, the district held an open house for the new optional school on the Fairview campus, which will be focused on a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).  Close to 200 community members were in attendance. The district is still soliciting votes to name that new school, which will have a partnership with Christian Brothers University.

Here are a few more open houses happening in the coming days.