Results from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet lottery are in, and if there were a prize for most popular, Morehead STEM Academy would take it.
|Students at Morehead STEM Academy|
The second-longest wait list is for perennial favorite Park Road Montessori, which has 397 wait-listed for a school with just under 500 students. Montessori schools, unlike other magnets, accept students in prekindergarten. Park Road had 279 pre-K applicants, and only 45 got in.
Overall demand for magnets is up this year, as Superintendent Heath Morrison, the school board and a citizens task force mull whether future expansions and revisions are needed. The number of students placed for 2013-14 is just under 19,000, little changed from the current year. But the waiting list is up by more than 20 percent, from 3,547 after the 2012 lottery to 4,348 this time.
As usual, lottery results show that in magnet schools, as in real estate, the key is location, location, location. The International Baccalaureate magnet at East Mecklenburg High pulled 845 students and had 71 on the waiting list. None of the others had waiting lists. North Meck's IB magnet drew 583 students, Harding's 393 and West Charlotte's 229. (Myers Park, as you may recall, still has an IB program, but it's no longer considered a magnet because it doesn't take students from outside the attendance zone.)
Harding's numbers hint at an ongoing challenge for the school, which was a popular and high-performing magnet school just a couple of years ago. At its peak, Harding's IB magnet pulled more than 700 students, with a math-science magnet comprising the other half of the westside school. Then the school board closed Waddell High, a struggling high-poverty neighborhood school, and sent most of those students to Harding, while moving the math-science magnet to Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. Interest in the IB magnet quickly slumped, as academic and disciplinary challenges rose. Last year's lottery saw 451 IB students placed at Harding; this year's report shows a significant decline in students moving on to the next level there. However, ninth-grade placements are up from 77 to 162, so if Harding can hold onto those students that could signal a revival of its IB magnet.
There's still a second lottery coming up for students who didn't register in time for the first one or who want to try for schools that still have seats available. Check here for dates and details.