CMS prepares for magnet school lottery

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is preparing for an onslaught of magnet program applications in the coming weeks as the time for parents to choose school options draws to a close.

New CMS students have until Jan. 12 to be registered with the district to be eligible for the first lottery to allocate seats. Parents have until Jan. 26 to submit choices for the first lottery, to be held in early February.

That marks the best chance for students to be admitted to schools with special programs, such as International Baccalaureate or science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). Students would still be eligible for enrollment at their neighborhood schools.

CMS will hold a magnet school options fair beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology to showcase the choices.

The magnet program application period opened nearly a month earlier than normal, in early December. Scott McCully, executive director of student placement at CMS, said the district received a wave of applications at that point, but the volume has been similar to previous years.

CMS expects another significant wave of applications after the magnet fair, and another close to the deadline, McCully said.

“We’re real pleased and encouraged by the number of applicants,” he said.

A number of new magnet programs will be opening this year after the school board voted to approve them late last year. Oakhurst Elementary will open as a partial STEAM magnet. Kennedy Middle will also now have a science, technology, engineering and math partial magnet.

McCully said those programs were on track to open without delay.

Huntingtowne Farms Elementary plans to expand its International Baccalaureate magnet program this fall after getting some relief from overcrowding by the soon-to-open Starmount Elementary, Principal Carol Rodd said.

The south Charlotte school plans to have more than 50 new seats in kindergarten and first grade for the 2015-16 school year, with more seats coming as the years progress. The school currently has 35 students on a wait list, Rodd said.