CMS calls Phase 1 of student assignment plan a success - | WBTV Charlotte

CMS calls Phase 1 of student assignment plan a success

(Devin Futrelle | WBTV) (Devin Futrelle | WBTV)
(Devin Futrelle | WBTV) (Devin Futrelle | WBTV)

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) is revealing results of Phase One of the student assignment plan that deals with magnet schools.  CMS leaders said there were nearly a 20 percent increase of students who applied for magnet schools this year in comparison to the year prior. CMS also said nearly 80 percent of parents answered questions for CMS so the district can determine their socio-economic status (SES). 

The district is using the socio-economic status to help bring economic diversity to magnet schools.  CMS leaders believe that type of diversity makes a difference when it comes to academic achievement. 

"The research is clear that socio-economic factors influence educational advantages and disadvantages,"  Akeshia Craven-Howell said, who is the associate superintendent of student assignment and school choice. "SES diversity in it of itself is not a silver bullet, but it does create the conditions in which our other educational investments are operating."

CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says CMS is known for its magnet schools. Idlewild Elementary was named the best magnet school in the country for 2017.  The superintendent said the school district must do more.

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"The reality is however it's not what we did yesterday or the day before that's important," Wilcox said. "It's what we are doing and going to do going forward."

The district added nine new choices of programs for students for the 2017-2018 school year, ranging from a coding magnet school to a high school specifically for students interested in teaching. 

CMS says these magnet changes will cost the district about $7.1 million, not including transportation.

CMS said these changes would add more than 3,400 new magnet seats but the district admits about 3,200 new seats will be added before the first of the year.  Leaders say as the new magnet programs continue to fill seats, they hope to reach their goal of filling the 3,400 new seats. 

CMS seated more than 25,000 students at magnet schools for the 2017-2018 school year.  The year before that, the district seated a little more than 22,000 students. 

The school district says nearly 60 percent of students received their first, second or third magnet school choice, but some didn't because the SES category, in which they fit in, was already filled. 

"It is possible that a student may not have gotten their first choice because they were more students who applied for a particular SES priority than there were seats," Craven-Howell said.  "These students were automatically put on a waitlist for their first choice."

The school district says so far this year, schools are looking more diverse because of the new way they are filling magnet schools.

"We've also seen kind of incremental increases in some other schools," Craven-Howell said. "Blythe and Cotswold come to mind and so that indicates that we are making progress."

CMS is excited about Phase One of the student assignment plan. Leaders call it a success and believe the phase is now competing with charter and private schools and winning.  Some of those students are returning to CMS.

"Some of that also are students who are already in the K-12 system and just aren't in the CMS system, and we saw a significant increase in new student enrollment applications," Craven-Howell said

CMS says there are still openings at some magnet schools. If you are interested, you can contact the CMS school district.

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