The power to choose
If you are not selected in the MOST lottery, that doesn't mean you can't choose a school for your child. Many private schools offer financial aid of their own (including these schools that offer significant aid to those who qualify), and there are actually a lot of options within Shelby County Schools, including the following:
Students must test into optional-school programs, but cutoff scores vary by school. Check the Optional Schools website for the latest handbook and other details. The line to pick up bar-coded applications for optional schools typically begins in late January, officially starting at 6:30 a.m. on the first day, but in years past, parents have started lining up at the school board several days (even up to a week) prior.
General Choice Transfers
To transfer to a non-optional school that you are not zoned for, you will need to participate in the General Choice Transfer process. There is no longer a lineup for this, but instead there is an online process in mid-February, and continuing through March. While there is no lineup, it's still first-come, first-served, so be online right at the announced start time if you're hoping for a spot in a popular school.
Application to charter schools, which are publicly financed, tuition-free schools run by operators other than the school district, is separate from the optional or open-enrollment process. You must apply individually to charter schools. For an updated list of local charter schools, visit Memphis School Guide, click "Search for Schools," and then filter the list for "Public Charter" only.