Local News

Magnet-School Application Offers More Classroom Choices Than Before

Posted February 10, 2003 5:02 a.m. EST

— Wake County parents can start applying to Magnet and year-round schools. They will find they have more classroom choices than before.

No schools are "frozen" this time around, meaning all families can apply to any school of their choice. But not all parents are happy with the school board's policy change.

When Wake County "froze" six schools last year, it prevented families assigned to those schools from choosing Magnet or year-round programs.

As a result, the Matsons sent their son, Michael, to private school.

"It's caused a lot of ill will," Cynthia Matson said.

Wake County officials said the schools were frozen to maintain diversity after an exodus of white, middle-class students caused an imbalance. School administrators admit now that the freeze was not the best idea.

The freeze was lifted, thanks in part to pressure from Matson's parents group called

"Assignment By Choice."

"I think everyone should have the right to choose what's best for the needs of their child," Matson said. "If they want to send their child to a Magnet or a year-round that may not be around the corner, then that's their right to choose it."

Matson said more parents will probably apply to Magnet and year-round schools this year fearing another "freeze." The deadline for applying is Feb. 19.

Oak Grove Elementary, a year-round school in Cary, expects to fill every spot.

"I really don't feel like I am in competition with others," Principal George Cooper said. "Here is the year-round program. If you're interested in that, you've got an option to come to it."

Traditional schools do feel pressure.

"I think whenever you provide opportunities for choice," said Swift Creek Pincipal Susanne Warren, "competition comes into play."

Traditional schools are advertising themselves in order to compete with Magnet and year-round schools. Swift Creek put out a brochure.

Schools also are having open houses to introduce families to the schools.

"We want to make sure that the traditional school, the base school, is seen as a really good choice also," Warren said.

It's a choice a parents believe only they can make.