Westerville News & Public Opinion

Apply for refangled magnet lottery next week

By

Magnet school programs will return to the Westerville City School District with a remodeled application and lottery registration system for the 2014-2015 school year.

Superintendent John Kellogg worked with district officials, teachers, principals and parents to create a two-year rollout plan to bring magnet programs back for each grade level at Hanby and Emerson elementary schools.

The magnet program has ended and will not be revived at Central College and Longfellow elementary schools, and its phase-out will continue at Robert Frost Elementary.

As part of the two-year plan, the district will introduce magnet programs for second- and third-graders for the upcoming school year.

Interested parents must send in an application for their child to be part of the magnet program lottery. Though the district is introducing second- and third-grade classes next year, parents of fourth- and fifth- graders can apply to the lottery, too, if seats are available.

The lottery application window opens Monday, May 5, and runs through May 19.

Unlike the previous system, the new lottery will be based on seat allocation, set by the student's assigned neighborhood school.

According to a letter from the district, each of Westerville's 12 nonmagnet elementary schools has a seat allocation for the magnet program, based on a percentage from October 2013's total enrollment count.

That breaks down to the following: 18 seats available each from the Alcott, Fouse and Hawthorne elementary attendance areas; 12 each from the Annehurst, Cherrington, Robert Frost, Huber Ridge, McVay, Mark Twain and Wilder attendance districts; and six each from the Pointview and Whittier districts.

The seat allocation lottery does not set limitations to interested students despite elementary school district.

"Though there are limited seats available, this is truly a program open to any elementary school student in the district, regardless of any circumstances," Kellogg said.

In addition, the letter said the seat allocation lottery helps "to alleviate potential overcrowding at some elementary buildings, and to ensure representation in the Magnet Program from all elementary schools."

"We made the decision that a per-building seat allocation was the preferred model as opposed to a district open lottery, (to get) fair representation from all schools across the district," Kellogg said.

Kellogg added that the committee worked carefully to ensure that the lottery system was as clean and fair as possible for students and faculty.

The lottery is a two-part system. In order to fill all available seats, there will be a first lottery drawing based on seat allocation. The second lottery is districtwide and will be used to fill any remaining available seats.

The lottery will be held at 1 p.m. May 21 at the Early Learning Center, 936 Eastwind Drive. If selected, parents have until May 30 to accept the offer.

The Westerville school board decided to stop the magnet program after a levy failure in November 2011. Since then, the district began to phase out the program by allowing already enrolled students to finish through fifth grade. But no new students were admitted into the program in 2012 and 2013.

Hanby will continue to offer math/science and art magnet programs and Emerson will continue its world cultures program.

While the district will revitalize the programs at Hanby and Emerson, the math/science program will no longer be available at Robert Frost Elementary after currently enrolled students finish the program through fifth grade.

"In an effort to keep the model of one section per grade level per strand, if we had retained the Robert Frost program, that would essentially give math/science two sections per grade level," Kellogg said.

In two years, the district will introduce magnet programs for first-graders. By the 2015-2016 school year, magnet programs will be available for first- through fifth-grades.

Once the program is fully restored, there will be one classroom per grade level and per magnet program. In total, there will be 15 classrooms and 375 magnet program students.

At this moment, there are no additional plans or discussions about adding more classes in the future at the current magnet program schools or reopening Central College or Longfellow.

Applications will be available in all elementary schools, at the district office and online at wcsoh.org.

The district also will host an open house information session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at Hanby Elementary School, 56 S. State St.

Comments