7 Things Families Need to Know About the CMS School Options Lottery

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It’s that time of year again. No, not the holiday hubbub, but time to get your lottery application together if you want your child to get into a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet program. The online School Options Lottery is open and will close at 10 p.m. Jan. 26, 2015. Following are seven tips from CMS for how to go about the process.

Know the deadline. Families can submit applications from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 26. Key dates for the 2015-2016 school year are available here.

Know where to find the online application. Find the application here. A Spanish version will be available soon. CMS will provide free computer access at all CMS Learning Community offices, CMS schools and the Smith Family Center (1600 Tyvola Road) through Jan. 26. Computers at these locations will be available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Families can contact Student Placement for assistance from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 980-343-5335. Spanish-speaking representatives are available at the Smith Family Center.

Make sure your child is enrolled as a current or future student. Students new to CMS in the 2015-2016 school year must have enrolled in the system by Jan. 12 to be eligible for the first magnet lottery. Students who enrolled after Jan. 12 will be eligible for the second magnet lottery, which runs from March 9 to June 5, 2015.

Have your student identification and PIN numbers readily available. CMS will send individual assignment notifications home with all current students beginning the second week in December. This mailing will include each student’s identification and PIN numbers, as well as directions for online application to the magnet lottery. Students who are new to CMS will receive the information in the mail.

Attend informational sessions. The School Option Lottery information sessions are available at the Smith Family Center from Dec. 8 to Jan. 26. Sign-up is available online for one-hour sessions in the morning, afternoon or evening. The annual School Options Fair will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Jan. 10 at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology (1430 Alleghany St.). See the 2015-2016 School Options Guide for details on specific programs.

Know your options. When you enter your student’s information, the application will automatically populate with the schools to which your student is eligible to receive transportation. You will have the opportunity to follow a link to see a list of more schools. CMS will offer 52 school options at 52 schools for the 2015-2016 school year. School options are Cooperative Innovative High Schools, Career and Technical Education programs and magnet themes including International Baccalaureate; Military and Global Leadership; Leadership and Global Studies; Montessori; Learning Immersion/Talent Development; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM); Traditional; Early College High School; Middle College High School; Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages. All CMS students are taught the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Magnet programs are theme-based to promote students’ interests, abilities and talents.

Lottery notifications. Lottery assignment notifications letters will be sent to families in mid-February. The letters tell families of assignments won through the lottery process.

If you’ve not already visited schools you’re interested in, check school websites to see if there is an early open house in January. Good luck!