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November 1, 2019

Hillsborough County Schools: Options for every student through School Choice

By Laura Cross, Hillsborough County Schools

I try to be a good mom. I love my kids and want the best for them. I do my research when it comes to doctors and dentists and dance classes.

So, why wasn’t I doing my research when it came to schools?

The answer: I didn’t realize how many options we have.

Before I joined the team at Hillsborough County Public Schools, I’d heard the term “School Choice” but I didn’t really understand the concept. 

For our family, our neighborhood schools have been a great fit. However, there are A LOT of options out there from Hillsborough Schools—especially for children with specific interests and talents.

Does your student have an artistic flair? An interest in robotics? Does he or she want to see what goes into becoming a doctor? If so, consider a Magnet School or a Choice Attractor Program. These focus on a theme (like Environmental Science or Performing Arts) and engage your student to discover more. And they’re all tuition-free.

You can find out more about the options across Hillsborough County at HillsboroughSchools.org/choice.

Once you’ve looked at different schools and perhaps set up a tour, the Choice application process is simple. Go to HillsboroughSchools.org/choice and click the “Apply” button. The first application period for the 2020-2021 school year is Oct. 25–Dec. 31, 2019.

Related: Unlock 50+ School Choice and Magnet Options in Hillsborough County

Depending on whether you’re choosing a Magnet Schools or Choice Attractor Program, you’ll have a certain number of schools/programs to which you can apply. Now, don’t stress—it’s not first come, first served. The person who applies in October has the same chance as the person who applies in December.

You’ll be notified in February whether you received an offer to one of the schools on your application. 

And here’s the really cool part—our school district is always adding new and innovative programs.

Here are just a few new Magnet/Choice options for the 2020-2021 school year:

  • South Tampa Academy at Monroe Middle Magnet (South Tampa) – An application-only International Baccalaureate (IB) Candidate School launching in 6th Grade in 2020. WATCH our Facebook LIVE Q & A with the principal 
  • Rodgers Middle School, A Cambridge Prep Academy (Riverview) – The world-renowned Cambridge AICE learning philosophy will be ingrained in the curriculum at Rodgers starting in 2020. Students can apply for entry to the Cambridge Leadership Institute, an add-on program with special opportunities to meet local CEOs and engage in unique afterschool activities.
  • Greco Middle School, An IB Candidate School (Temple Terrace) – Launching in 2020, this IB Candidate School will incorporate the IB learning philosophy for every student in every grade.
  • Academy 2027 (SouthShore area) – Students in this application-only program will have access to state-of-the-art high school level facilities, while spending time almost exclusively with their own sixth grade peer group in a learning environment driven by the internationally respected Cambridge AICE philosophy.

During the school choice process, don’t forget to do some deep digging into your neighborhood school. Our schools often have so many unique clubs, programs, sports teams, competitions and benefits that you may not know about everything until you check them out!

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