Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat are Magnet Schools?
Magnet schools are excellent schools with a specific programmatic theme; they have a neighborhood attendance area but also accept a limited number of students from outside the schools’ boundaries. They are called “magnets” because they attract students with similar academic interests (like a magnet) from outside their usual attendance boundaries.
Which MCAS schools are designated as Magnet Schools?
* Pine Elementary School — a Visual and Performing Arts themed Magnet
* Lake Hills Elementary School — a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) themed MagnetWhy these two schools?MCAS schools selected to be magnets are state-of-the-art facilities that were under-enrolled with neighborhood students and thus were underutilized. Their location, layout, and staff composition lend themselves to this purpose. Both schools provide strong instruction in reading, math, social studies, science, and the arts.How are these schools different?Pine and Lake Hills continue to provide a solid education in core subjects. They also provide enriched instruction in their theme areas through teaching units that feature the arts or STEM themes. They have added specialist teachers in those theme areas. As magnets, they also provide extended learning options such as clubs, field trips, and after-school activities that are related to the themes.
How does a student apply to attend these schools?
Applications are available each year during the second semester. (In 2023, applications will be available by mid-February and are due by April 28.) All students entering Kindergarten the following year are welcome to apply. A limited number of slots may also be available for students entering grades 1-6. This includes students who currently attend public, private, and charter schools, or those who are homeschooled.
Does MCAS provide transportation?
Yes. However, transportation will be provided only if the student resides or has a babysitter/after-school daycare within the MCAS school district boundaries.
If my child currently attends Lake Hills or Pine do I need to apply?
Students who currently attend these schools as their neighborhood schools will continue to attend, and do NOT need to apply. However, if you would like to attend the other magnet school (for example, if you currently attend Lake Hills and would like to transfer to Pine), you DO need to complete an application. Students who attended Pine or Lake Hills the previous year through the magnet option DO NOT need to reapply for subsequent years. (Note: If you currently reside in the Pine or Lake Hills neighborhood boundary but will be moving out of the school boundary to another location over the summer, you DO need to apply.)
What about Pre-K students at Pine?
Current Pre-K students attending Pine and who live within the school boundary for Pine will automatically attend the magnet and DO NOT need to apply. Those Pre-K students who attend Pine but live within the school boundaries for other elementary schools DO need to complete an application if they wish to attend Pine as kindergartners.
How many students from other MCAS schools will be allowed to transfer?
A maximum of three kindergarten students from each school may transfer to each of the magnet schools annually. If there are more applicants than slots, the district will determine transfers through a lottery (random selection). In grades 1-6 the number will be determined based on the number of available slots.
When will I find out if my child has been accepted for transfer?
For 2023-2024, families will be notified of placements (or position on the wait list) by May 26. All families will be notified, whether or not their child is selected in the lottery.Do you have to have high test scores to attend a magnet school?No. There is no performance requirement or entry exam; students of any academic ability level may apply. (Note: MCAS also has a self-contained program for high-ability students in grades 4-6. Please ask your school principal for details.)
Will you accept special needs students at the magnet schools?
Students with special needs are welcome to apply! Some special education needs that require a district-level placement (i.e., ED, MO) may need to be accommodated at other schools, however.
Do I reapply every year?
Once a student transfers, the magnet school becomes his/her school regardless of residence. Transportation will continue to be provided for as long as the student resides within MCAS boundaries.If I have other children entering school in future years, do they get to transfer?Siblings of current transfer students will be given preference in future years, but space must be available and you will need to complete an application.Can students attending a magnet school transfer back out?Students may transfer out of the school at any time and return to their neighborhood schools.
Why is MCAS doing this?
A thematic approach provides students and teachers a unique opportunity to connect learning across the content areas. Nationwide, magnets are among the most successful schools because they engage students in hands-on learning, stimulating creativity and innovation. In today’s competitive environment, MCAS believes that creating choice options is one way both to retain current MCAS families and to attract those who currently do not attend public schools.
Why start magnets at the elementary level?
MCAS’ goal is to create a pathway for students, allowing them to build on what they have learned as they progress. The elementary level is the optimum time to lay this groundwork for deeper learning at the middle and high school level.What options are available at the middle school level?During the 2012-13 school year, MCAS middle schools began offering theme-based programming at the middle level. Barker Middle School centers on a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) theme, while Krueger Middle School’s focus is on Environmental Science. Admission to these schools is based on space available for students wishing to attend a school other than their neighborhood enrollment school. Transportation is not provided outside neighborhood school boundaries. Please contact the middle school serving your neighborhood for more information.
The buildings are staffed with MCAS teachers who are excited to work to fulfill the promise of the magnet school theme. They are responsible for the development of the thematic curriculum units and the extra-curricular experiences, utilizing outside resources. MCAS teachers have embraced the magnet school effort. This is a true partnership between the MCAS school board, the teachers, and the wider community.
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