The Magnet Lottery has Changed
Here's what you need to know.
This past November, the school board approved a plan (drafted by our district leadership) that made changes to the lottery process and transportation zones, and also increased the number of available seats in magnet programs. Here are highlights of the changes.
1. There are three transportation zones now, instead of four.
While I wish they had used different color designations to avoid confusion, they didn’t ... oh well. So, moral of the story: pay extra attention as you do school research, because the blue zone then is different than the blue zone now, and so forth. Here’s the new map.
Word to the wise: Recall from last year’s article that just because a school is located within a transportation zone, that does not always mean the school serves that transportation zone.
2. Socioeconomics are now a factor in the lottery.
But that doesn’t mean that priority is uniformly given to one socioeconomic status over another. Instead, the goal is better socioeconomic balance at more schools.
What does that mean for you? Well, that depends. And there’s still some grey area and uncertainty. But the bottom line is that you have a better chance of landing a seat in a school with a socioeconomic population that’s different than your own. (It’s more nuanced than this, but that’s for another article altogether).
3. More seats = less assumptions.
District leadership did a good job of figuring out how to expand magnet opportunity despite significant facility constraints and overall enrollment numbers that continue to rise.
Though the grand effect is additional magnet seats (read: expanded opportunity), there's quite a bit of programmatic change for 2017-18 as a result.
As programs move around into other school buildings, and as schools that were once closed get reopened as new magnets, it will require a little extra research on the part of the public to figure out what's what in this new landscape.
We have to put aside our old assumptions about schools that are “good” and “bad,” since a school that once had a bad reputation may now house a completely new program with completely new faculty, administration, and even students.
Bottom line: You can’t rely on school names and old reputations to inform your choices. Your best bet? Visit, visit, visit. VISIT!
4. There's a new website! Hooray!
And you can sign up to receive text reminders, too.
To give you an idea of volume, I signed up for text reminders when the new site launched (Friday, Jan. 6), and since then, I’ve received four texts from the reminder service, including the initial welcome message.
Just as a caution for those of you who already have a kid enrolled: This new website — cmschoice.org — is not the same website for magnet information listed on the student assignment letters that went home a few weeks ago. That's the old site, and though it probably still functions, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say you'll probably hate it.
Use the new one.
In short, there’s a lot changing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools right now.
Just with magnets, we have new lottery priorities, new transportation zones, a new website, and new school reputations to build as programs shuffle around to maximize both space and opportunity.
And between the close of the magnet lottery and the opening of school doors this fall, CMS will have transitioned from one superintendent to the next, tackled another piece of student assignment, and begun the next installment of the political wrestling match over much-needed school bonds.
It’s shaping up to be a big year for our schools.