Buffer Zones

  • What is a buffer zone?
    A buffer zone is an area surrounding a neighborhood school district that serves two or more schools. All of the K-8 schools in Brookline have buffer zone streets in their district. Buffer zones are designed to keep class sizes small by allowing the Office of Student Affairs the discretion to assign students to any of the schools in their buffer zone. In addition to class size, factors such as siblings and family preference are all considered when making a school assignment.

    How can I find out if my home is in a buffer zone?
    To determine whether or not you are in a buffer zone, ener your street address in our School Locator. This will display the school information, as well as important details about your new neighborhood. When searching, please to select the address without the zip code. When reviewing the school district, make certain to look also for the School Buffer Zone. If you are uncertain about an address, you may email studentaffairs@psbma.org or contact the Office of Student Affairs at 617-264-6492.

    Can I state a preference?
    Yes. Families are welcome to state a preference as to which school they would like their child assigned. The Office of Student Affairs makes every effort to honor those requests. However, the enrollment at each buffer school for the grade that your child is entering plays an important part in the final decision.

    I have multiple children, and I live in a Buffer Zone. Will they be assigned to different schools?
    Once a family receives a buffer assignment, siblings are always assigned to the same school, as long as the family continues to reside at the same address.

    Are buffer assignments made on a first-come, first-served basis? Should I come on the first day?
    No. Our student assignment policy is based on your assigned buffer and overall enrollment patterns. If you do not live in a buffer zone, no school assignment decision is necessary. The timing of your registration will not impact your school assignment. A family that registers on the first available registration appointment has no advantage over a family that registers on a later day of the same period (i.e. January and February kindergarten registrations are weighted equally before a decision is made) just because they registered earlier.

    When are school assignment decisions made?
    The timing of a school assignment depends upon when you register. Each student must have submitted all required documents to the Office of Student Affairs (and completed an ELE screening, if applicable) before they can be considered for a final school assignment.

    The registration periods listed below are for students completing all required step of registration with the Office of Student Affairs during that period:

    • Spring and Summer Registration:

      If you complete registration:

      You will be notified of your school assignment by:

      Before April 1                                                      

      April 30

      Between April 1 and May 15 

      May 31

      Between May 15 and July 1       


      Between July 1 and August 1 


      Between August 1 and August 15

      August 31

      After August 15     

      On a rolling basis until school starts

    • New to the district mid-year:
      If you move into Brookline after the school year has started, decisions on placements are made upon completion of the registration documentation requirements. These assignments are as close to the effective date of the lease or actual closing on a purchase of a home/condo as possible. Advance decisions cannot be made because of fluctuations in enrollments. The Office of Student Affairs will notify you with a school placement and appropriate contact information for your assigned school.

    • Changed address to new school zone:
      If you move within Brookline, you must notify the Public Schools of Brookline of your new address. If your new home is in a buffer zone, you may state a preference as part of the process regarding your student’s school assignment.  Depending upon the time of year of your move, a decision will be made to facilitate your student’s continued education in Brookline.

    How will I be notified of a school assignment?
    You will be contacted by the Office of Student Affairs by email or letter as outlined above.


School Assignments