Gorman to present new magnet plan

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Peter Gorman plans to unveil a new and more sweeping slate of possible changes to magnet schools at a seven-hour session with the school board on Thursday.

The board has been reviewing its specialized academic programs since March. Gorman presented a plan in June that would have eliminated magnets serving about 2,100 students while revamping several others.

During the summer, board members and CMS officials met with hundreds of parents at magnet forums around the county. A recap of those discussions will be part of Thursday's agenda.

The board will not vote this week, and any changes that are eventually approved would take effect in 2009-10 or later.

CMS currently has 15 magnet themes, ranging from foreign language to performing arts, in 50 schools. Students must apply to magnets and are chosen by lottery if there are more applicants than available seats. Board members plan to look at whether the programs are attracting students, offering a distinctive alternative to regular schools, boosting student achievement and promoting diversity.

An advance report sent to the school board indicates that only four magnet schools – Smith Language Academy, Randolph Middle, Oakhurst and Elizabeth Traditional elementaries – reflect CMS's diversity, as measured by being between 55 percent and 75 percent nonwhite. Overall, CMS was 65 percent nonwhite last year.