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School choice acceptance period begins today

By DONNA WINCHESTER
Published December 1, 2004


The deadline is here for parents who applied to magnet, fundamental and career academy programs for the 2005-06 school year.

The acceptance period for seats in those programs begins today. Parents who applied for the coveted countywide spots during the Sept. 1 to Nov. 1 application period will have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 10 to respond to an invitation. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the seat.

The school district's automated phone system recorded close to 10,000 countywide applications this year, down slightly from last year, said Christine Lowry, director of magnet and fundamental programs. Lowry suspects thinks numbers may be down because families are happy with their children's current schools, even though they would not have risked those seats by applying to a countywide program.

"I think, too, that the No. 1 attractor will always be proximity," Lowry said. "We're figuring that a lot of families are looking for choices closer to home."

Beginning at this morning, parents were able to call the same number they used to apply for countywide seats - 501-0871 - to check the status of their applications. They should have in hand the student's 10-digit student number and eight-digit date of birth and the code numbers of the programs for which they applied. The code numbers are listed on the worksheets for submitting applications to countywide programs at www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/magnet. They also are available from individual schools.

Once they are logged on to the system, parents can find out which programs, if any, they have been invited to and which waiting lists they have been placed on by choosing Option 1. If they are prepared to make a decision at that point, they can select Option 2. If they need more time to think over their choices, they can hang up.

Callers will not be given the opportunity, nor will it be necessary, to accept or decline a wait list spot.

The choice applications of children who accept seats in countywide programs will be deleted before the choice match is run because the district will assume they have gotten their choice when they accept the magnet, fundamental or career academy spot. Children who choose to remain on a wait list who do not have extended grandfathering will go into the choice lottery so that they will have a place to wait.

Here are some frequently asked questions Lowry's office received last year about the acceptance period for countywide magnet, fundamental and career academy programs.

How do I know if the phone system has recorded my responses properly?

You can confirm your selections by returning to Option 1. You will be told your child's current status, including any invitations offered and accepted, and his or her number on any waiting lists.

I want my child to remain on the wait list he's been placed on but there was no option to do that. What do I do to make sure he stays on the list?

You don't have to do anything. Children automatically remain on the wait lists until the lists expire or you accept a spot in one of the programs.

When I called to check my child's wait list status, she was in the same spot she was in the first day of the acceptance period. Why hasn't she moved up on the list?

During the acceptance period, student information concerning wait list order does not change. No one will "move up" on the list until after the acceptance period is over.

How will I know if and when my child moves up on the list?

By the third week in December, individual schools will have the results of the application process. If your child moves up and off the wait list, a representative from the school will call you to offer you the seat. As in past years, you will have approximately 24 hours to accept it.

[Last modified December 1, 2004, 11:50:57]


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