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Schools

Parents rush phones as sign-ups open

By DONNA WINCHESTER
Published February 8, 2006


The automated phone application period for magnet, fundamental and high school career academy programs roared to life at midnight on Feb. 1. Within six minutes, all 26 lines were busy, according to district spokeswoman Andrea Zahn.

By noon, more than 1,000 applications had been received, and by noon the next day, 2,500 applications were in the system.

Choice officials are thrilled with the response, but they want to remind parents that it makes no difference whether they apply on the first day or the last day of the application period. Everyone who completes an automated phone application before midnight Feb. 17 has the same chance of getting one of the coveted seats, Zahn said.

Based on calls that were made the first week, Zahn offers these tips for parents who still plan to apply for a magnet, fundamental or career academy seat:

Read the directions in the Choice Information Guide before you call. Keep a copy of the directions as a reference while you're on the phone.

Keep in mind that you do not have to prioritize your choices. Unlike the application process for choice attendance area schools, families can apply to as many countywide programs as they like. A child can be invited to more than one program, so take advantage of all your options.

If a sibling already attends the school to which you are applying and will be there for the 2006-07 school year, you will need the sibling's ID number so the child applying will get "sibling priority."

Make sure to listen for the automated voice to repeat the choices you've made.

Remember that if you want to change your mind about your selections, you can call back any time up to midnight on Feb. 17.

While there's still time, check to see whether the program(s) for which you are applying have eligibility criteria. Most middle and high school programs do. If that's the case, you must deliver the materials - usually report cards and/or test scores - to the school(s) by the end of the school day on Feb. 20. Failure to do so will void your application.

Parents who need help working through the automated phone call can get help at either of the district's Family Education and Information Centers, Zahn said. Family center workers will be happy to walk families through the process if they have any questions, she said.

The St. Petersburg FEIC at 3420 Eighth Ave. S is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Clearwater FEIC at 1101 Marshall St. is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

* * *

Coming next week: How to accept a magnet, fundamental or career academy invitation.

HOW TO APPLY

Applications to countywide magnet, fundamental or career academy programs are made by phone only. The number, 727 501-0871, will operate 24 hours a day until midnight Feb. 17. You will need your child's 10-digit ID number and the six-digit "program ID" number for each school to which you want to apply. Refer to the district's Choice Information Guide, available at any school, public library, the Family Education and Information Centers, or online at www.pinellaschoice.org for details.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Learn more about schools by attending school tours, Discovery Nights and other school activities. Parents are encouraged to verify the dates and times when calling the school to make a reservation for a school tour. For a list of tours and Discovery Nights, go to www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/Choice/tours.html

ON THE WEB

For a listing of magnet and fundamental programs, go to www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/magnet/home.html

For a listing of high school career academies, go to www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/workforce/careeracademies.html

[Last modified February 8, 2006, 01:15:22]


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