State Department of Education officials have extended the notification deadline for parents interested in the Interdistrict Public School Choice program.

Parents who want their children to attend one of the choice districts in 2013-14 must notify their home district by Nov. 16. A sample notification letter is on the Public School Choice link on the Department of Education website.

Education Commissioner Chris Cerf extended the original Nov. 2 deadline because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Districts will now have until Nov. 26 to confirm that the child is a resident and eligible for the program. Students already attending the local public school are given first preference at the choice schools, but students currently in nonpublic schools can be accepted if the choice school has enough seats available.

Four new districts are joining the choice program in 2013-14.

Mainland Regional High School will take 25 freshmen from outside the sending districts. Lower Cape May Regional will take 74 choice students, Cape May will accept 20 choice students and Woodbine will accept about 25 students in grades kindergarten through eight.

Existing choice districts are also accepting some new choice students, but the numbers are limited.

Hammonton School Superintendent C. Dan Blachford said he gets calls every week, but wants to limit class sizes.

“The interest is still there, but we don’t want 40 students in a class here,” he said.

He said that when they first joined the program they had enough seats to accept students from nonpublic schools, that is less likely now that there are only a few spots open.

If more students apply than there are seats in that grade, the choice school must hold a lottery to determine who attends, with public school students getting first preference.

The choice program is free to parents and transportation is provided as allowed by state law.

Contact Diane D'Amico:

609-272-7241