Applications for Los Angeles Unified's 172 magnet programs are due on Nov. 16 because of the academic year's early start
By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/SGCmHw
Venice High School is one of the campuses expected to get a new magnet school. (Michael Robinson Chavez, Los Angeles Times)
October 7, 2012, 5:59 p.m. :: The Los Angeles school district's popular magnet program has a new deadline for applications this year — Nov. 16 — due to the early start of the school year.
"Everything got moved up a month," said Felipe Echávarri, a coordinator for L.A. Unified's Student Integration Services. "We want parents to be aware."
Officials said families will receive automated phone reminders and an alert by postcard, but magnet-program brochures and applications are no longer mailed out. Those mailings ended last year, when the district switched to an online system.
Families without computer access can obtain paper applications, starting Monday, at schools, L.A. city public libraries and district headquarters. The application is available in Armenian, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Farsi, Tagalog and Vietnamese as well as English.
The school system has 172 magnet programs that enroll just over 59,000 students. Last year, more than 25,000 students failed to get into their chosen program and landed on a waiting list.
Magnets were first created as a voluntary integration program. The goal was to draw students from different parts of the district to schools they might not otherwise attend. The magnets have racial quotas: They're supposed to enroll a certain percentage of white students. Minority students make up more than 90% of the district enrollment overall.
The district provides free busing, but budget cuts in recent years have reduced the number of pick-up and drop-off locations and lengthened travel time for many students.
Seven new magnets are expected to open next fall, six of which are scheduled for final approval at Tuesday's meeting of the board of education.
King Middle School in Los Feliz, which has a magnet for academically gifted students on its campus, will become a full magnet along with Irving Middle School in Glassell Park. Sun Valley Middle School in the east San Fernando Valley will divide into three magnets.
New magnets also are expected to open at Venice High on the Westside, Verdugo Hills High in Tujunga and at the just-opened South Region High School #12 in South Los Angeles.
The magnet application is relatively simple. But the point system for determining who gets in is considerably more complicated. A student gets points for landing on a waiting list, for living near an overcrowded school or one with few or no white students and for having a sibling at the desired magnet, among other considerations.
For years, L.A. Unified lacked a one-stop information hub with information about all schooling options, including independently operated charter schools. The current web page has improved features for researching choices.
But there was one major hitch last week — last year's deadline was still posted prominently — which could result in unknowing parents turning in applications a month too late. The correct deadline, in smaller print, appeared on another portion of the same web page. (see following)
HOW HARD CAN IT BE?