Enthusiasm grows for magnet schools


Kristin Mamrack



Columbus Municipal School District officials report the city''s school choice program -- first implemented in the fall of 2005 -- still is successful.


"Columbus Magnet Schools offer parents a unique opportunity to choose the school theme and program that their child is most interested in," said CMSD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell. "As the registration officer for the district, I have the pleasure to work first-hand with parents as they enter our school system. I am very pleased to report that the overwhelming response I get from parents is enthusiasm about our magnet schools and satisfaction they can choose the program of interest for their child."


CMSD is beginning its second year of magnet schools -- each of which is structured around one of five themes: Fine arts, aerospace, medical sciences and wellness, international studies or technology and communication -- geared towards teaching not only the basics of education, but issues and activities which really interest and engage children.



To get their theme of choice, parents and students enter a lottery. Parents who enroll children in the pre-kindergarten program at Stokes-Beard Elementary also submit lottery forms.


The first lottery for Columbus magnet schools was held April 17 and 96 percent of parents were able to get their first-choice selection, Liddell reported, noting a second lottery was held June 19 for new students and incoming kindergarten students.


The second lottery is an ongoing process during which new students are enrolled based on parents'' selections and seat availability.


"We continue to enroll students across the summer break, which is a very good sign of our community''s enthusiasm for Columbus magnet schools," she said.


Enrollment data indicates the greatest diversity among CMSD magnet schools can be found at Cook Fine Arts Magnet School, but the CMSD''s "non-minority student population" is increasing overall in all the magnet schools, Liddell said.


"We see the increase in diversity, both by race and socioeconomic status, as a positive future trend," she said. "The average daily attendance for Columbus magnet schools has also increased over past years with more than 97 percent of students attending school regularly. As students attend school on a regular and daily basis, more learning will be gained."





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