CMS’ third lottery for magnet school programs ended last month and district officials say applications are up by 35 percent from last year. The district made changes to the lottery for the magnet program this year to create more diversity at these schools, but it didn’t change things much.
CMS officials point to an enrollment increase of 20 percent next year in magnet programs. They say many programs have no available seats and some that never had wait lists, have them now. In addition to aggressively getting the word out to parents about magnet program, Superintendent Clayton Wilcox attributes the increases to new offerings.
“Our student assignment plan this year added nine new choices for families and of those choices we now have 2,630 seats that parents are choosing,” Wilcox said.
Those choices include a new technology school for elementary students and a program for students interested in education careers.
As for diversifying magnet program enrollment in terms of socioeconomic status, SES, the change was minimal. Assistant Superintendent Akeishia Craven-Howell, who oversaw changes to the student assignment plan, says most income balancing occurred in the lower grades and at new schools.
“I saw a balancing out across low, medium and high at Blythe and Cotswold Elementary. Charlotte Teachers Early College, which is a new full magnet, that’s where all of the seats are in the lottery and we have an increased opportunity to impact diversity,” Craven-Howell said.
Blythe in Huntersville and Cotswold in southeast Charlotte are elementary international baccalaureate schools but the changes were not that large. According to CMS data, Blythe will have an even number of low and high income students, 83 but the majority will still be middle income. More than half of the students at Cotswold will still be high income, with both low and medium income students accounting for just over 20 percent.
But at most schools, such as Harding High in west Charlotte, the numbers were pretty much unchanged. It’s a struggling partial IB magnet, with 71 percent low income students. During community meetings last year, parents told CMS officials those numbers would have to change for the school to improve.
These aren’t hard and fast numbers. The district will only know who shows up when school starts.