Local News

Officials Try To Dispel Rumors About Applications For Magnet Schools

Posted February 9, 2004

— Winning your child a seat in a Wake County magnet or year-round school is a competitive assignment.

This school year, more than 10,000 students applied to get into magnet schools. Only 39 percent were accepted. Lillian Weakland said she fields calls from parents every day trying to find an edge.

"Well, I tell them there really is no edge," she said.

The factors for increasing your chances have changed over the years.

"I think it was three or four years ago, we just completely took race out of our selection," said Caroline Massengill, director of the Wake County Magnet School Program.

Massengill said she has heard all the tricks such as parents applying online the very second the application process opens, which used to help, but not anymore. Everyone who applies from Feb. 7 to Feb. 18 goes into the same pool.

Another common thought is that if you are connected, or if you know the principal, you have a better shot of getting your child into that school. But school leaders said that is not the case because principals do not make those decisions.

"We have stayed away from that," Massengill said. "We want this to be as fair a process for everyone as this can be."

Massengill said criteria like bus patterns and whether a child is eligible for free and reduced lunch make a difference. Other criteria, such as if your base school is over capacity or underenrolled, can be a factor.

"One thing we're not going to do in Wake County is kill one school to help a magnet school," Massengill said.

Luck can also be helpful. Ten percent of all magnet applicants are chosen by a straight lottery.

If you are thinking of using someone else's address to help get your child into a certain school, officials say not to think about it; it is illegal.

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