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How to apply to Bullis Charter School?

Bullis Charter School is a highly sought-after public K-8 charter school located in Los Altos, California. With high academic standards, innovative programs, and a lottery-based admission process, getting into Bullis requires strategic planning and preparation. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about qualifying for, applying to, and getting accepted to Bullis Charter School.

Bullis Charter School Background

First opened in 2004, Bullis Charter School was founded by a group of Los Altos parents and educators who wanted to provide an alternative to traditional public schooling. Bullis emphasizes a balanced education across academics, arts, and athletics. The school consistently ranks among the top schools in California based on standardized test scores.

As a public charter school, Bullis provides tuition-free education but is its own district and thus operates independently from the Los Altos School District. Enrollment is open to any student residing in California through an annual random public lottery.

Bullis Charter School Programs

Some of the key programs that make Bullis Charter School unique include:

  • Inquiry-based learning – students engage in hands-on, collaborative projects.
  • 1:1 technology program – each student receives a laptop for educational use.
  • Mandarin Chinese instruction starting in Kindergarten.
  • Visual and performing arts classes.
  • Many after-school electives and sports teams for grades 6-8.

Bullis Charter School Educational Philosophy

Bullis Charter School adheres to a constructivist educational philosophy. This approach emphasizes:

  • Student-centered, discovery-based learning.
  • Making meaningful connections across disciplines.
  • Developing conceptual understanding through hands-on activities.
  • Cultivating creativity and higher-order thinking skills.

The goal is to develop students who are critical thinkers, collaborative workers, strong communicators, and socially responsible citizens.

Bullis Charter School Enrollment

As a public charter school, Bullis Charter School must accept all students who wish to attend through an open enrollment lottery system. Here are some key facts about enrollment at Bullis Charter School:

  • Total Enrollment: Approximately 900 students in grades K-8.
  • Grade Level Enrollment Cap: 112 students per grade.
  • Annual Lottery Applications: Typically over 1,200 applications for 112 K and new student spots.
  • Acceptance Rate: Approximately 10% acceptance for new student lottery applicants.

Demand for Bullis Charter School is very high, given its reputation for academic excellence. As there are limited seats available each year, getting into Bullis is highly competitive.

Bullis Charter School Admissions Timeline

It is important to be aware of the key dates in the Bullis Charter School admissions process:

Date Event
October Lottery application window opens for the following academic year.
November Public lottery information sessions.
Early January Lottery application due (exact date TBD annually).
February Public lottery held and results notified soon after.
March Acceptance paperwork due for those offered seats.

Mark your calendars with these key dates if you plan to apply for the following academic year. Attending an information session in the fall is highly recommended.

Qualifying to Apply for Bullis Charter School

Bullis Charter School admissions are open to any student residing in the state of California. All applicants must go through the standard lottery process. Here are the basic requirements to qualify:

Age Requirements

Students must be the appropriate age on September 1 of the academic year they are applying for:

  • Kindergarten: 5 years old
  • 1st Grade: 6 years old
  • 2nd Grade: 7 years old
  • And so on through 8th grade

California Residency

At least one parent/guardian must provide proof of legal residency in the state of California.

Immunization Records

Students must be fully immunized according to California state regulations before starting school.

No Entrance Exam

Bullis Charter School has no entrance exam or academic requirements to qualify for the lottery.

How the Bullis Charter School Lottery Works

All eligible applicants for Bullis Charter School are entered into an annual public random lottery, which is typically held in February.

Some key details on how the Bullis Charter School lottery process works:

  • The lottery is unweighted – all eligible applicants have equal chance.
  • Lottery automatically gives preference to:
    • Current students guaranteed enrollment in next grade.
    • Siblings of current students.
  • Lottery conducted grade-by-grade in descending order.
  • Once capacity is reached in a grade, no more applicants selected.
  • Applicants not selected are given waitlist priority order number.

Attending the lottery is encouraged but not required. Results are announced in February and offers are sent out soon after.

Bullis Charter School Waitlist

Due to high demand, most applicants are waitlisted rather than initially accepted through the lottery. Here are key details on how the waitlist works:

  • Applicants are waitlisted in the lottery-generated priority order.
  • As admitted students decline seats, waitlist offers are made in priority order.
  • The waitlist remains active over the summer as seats open up.
  • Typically just 10-20% on waitlist ultimately receive seats.

Maintaining your waitlist position and regularly contacting the school is important. You must accept any seat offers before the specified deadline or risk being removed from the waitlist.

Tips for Applying for Bullis Charter School

While the Bullis Charter School lottery itself is a random chance process, there are still steps families can take to maximize their chances and prepare their application.

Attend an Information Session

Attending one of the fall information sessions allows you to learn key details and ask questions directly of Bullis staff. Being informed on the process can help avoid mistakes.

Understand the Time Commitment

Due to its specialized programs, Bullis Charter School requires a substantial time commitment from enrolled families. Make sure you fully understand these expectations before applying.

Check Your Lottery Odds

See what the historical acceptance rate is for the grade you are applying for, which varies based on capacity and demand. Set expectations accordingly.

Polish Your Application

While the lottery is random, your application still creates a vital first impression. Ensure all information is accurate, forms are complete, and documents are attached as required.

Apply Every Year if Necessary

Since the lottery odds are so low, most applicants do not get in on the first try. Commit to reapplying annually until your child is admitted.

Have a Backup Plan

Even if Bullis is your top choice, also apply to other schools or make district enrollment contingency plans. Never count on the Bullis lottery alone.

Bullis Charter School Application Process Step-by-Step

Here is a step-by-step overview of the Bullis Charter School application and lottery process:

Step 1: Attend Information Session (Recommended)

Information sessions are typically held on weekday evenings in November prior to the application deadline. Valuable details on the admissions process, required documents, key dates and deadlines are provided.

Step 2: Obtain Lottery Application

The lottery application will be available on the Bullis Charter School website when the application window opens in October. You will need to provide contact information and student details.

Step 3: Compile Required Documents

Gather the following documents, which must be submitted with your application:

  • Proof of age such as birth certificate
  • California residency documentation
  • Immunization records
  • Sibling status evidence (if applicable)

Step 4: Complete and Submit Application

Fill out the full application and attach required documents. All materials must be received by the January deadline to qualify for the lottery.

Step 5: Attend Lottery (Optional)

The public random electronic lottery is held in February. Attendance is encouraged but not required.

Step 6: Await Notification

Results are provided soon after the lottery. Contact the school immediately if you have any questions.

Step 7: Accept Offer

If accepted, you will receive an offer letter and registration materials that must be completed by the specified March deadline to secure your seat.

Bullis Charter School Acceptance Next Steps

If your child is lucky enough to be accepted through the lottery or waitlist, here are some key next steps:

Accept Your Seat

Carefully review the offer letter and submit by the deadline all required registration paperwork, deposits, or fees.

Notify Your District

Let your local school district know you have accepted enrollment at Bullis Charter School and will not attend district schools.

Complete Summer Registration

Bullis will provide a registration packet with required summer forms and information to review to get ready for the new school year.

Mark Your Calendar

Stay on top of orientation dates, back-to-school events, school supply lists, and the first day of school.

Get Involved

Sign up to volunteer, attend PTA meetings, and participate in any orientation opportunities. Connecting with the Bullis community early is encouraged.

Frequently Asked Questions on Bullis Charter School Admissions

How do Bullis admissions work for siblings?

Siblings of current Bullis students are given priority in the lottery. However, acceptance is still not guaranteed – siblings must go through the standard application process.

Does Bullis accept mid-year transfers?

Mid-year transfers are extremely rare. Bullis will only consider a transfer if space allows, which almost never occurs mid-year.

Can you appeal if your child is not accepted?

No. Because the lottery is random, there is no appeals process. Your only option is to reapply the following year.

Is Bullis Charter School really worth the effort?

For many families seeking a specialized public school, the educational experience at Bullis is worth the long odds of applying annually. But it requires substantial commitment and uncertainty. Consider your options carefully before applying.

What happens if you miss the application deadline?

Late applications are not accepted, no exceptions. If you miss the deadline, you must wait until the following year to apply to Bullis Charter School.


Applying to Bullis Charter School can be an intense process full of competition and uncertainty. But for the right student, the opportunity to attend such a distinguished public school is well worth the effort. Stay informed, be prepared, and do not get discouraged if it takes multiple tries before your child is admitted through the lottery or waitlist.

At the end of the day, regardless of the results, ensure your child feels supported. Emphasize that where they attend elementary school does not define them – there are many paths to an enriching education and life. With strategic planning, persistence through setbacks, and a bit of luck, your child may win admission to Bullis Charter School.