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I Can’t Tour a Potential Magnet School … Now What?!

The highly anticipated magnet school application window opens Nov. 2. Right now, many excited students and families would be booking tours to visit these schools, but because of the pandemic, tours are not allowed this year.

But it’s okay: Our district is creating options to make sure you are prepared when that window opens.

Let’s start at the beginning… What is a magnet school?

A magnet school is AWESOME! It is an elementary, middle or high school with a theme-based and technology-rich curriculum. Magnet school teachers are specially trained in innovative and rigorous academic instructional methods.

Here are a few examples:

  • Shore Elementary Magnet specializes in visual, performing and communication arts
  • Rodgers Middle Magnet has the prestigious Cambridge AICE program
  • Middleton High Magnet has the Academy of Computer Game Design, Computer Systems Engineering, Biomedical/Biotechnology and the Academy of Engineering

They all sound amazing, right? And these are just three of the 38 schools that have unique and innovative programs available But being the cautious parent you are, you don’t want to sign your student up for a program without a little more information.

Things will be a little different this year as we limit visits to campuses and move in-person visits to virtual—but the information to help you make a decision will be the same.

Here are the steps you need to take right now, in order to be prepared for the Magnet window:

  • Start looking at each school’s website to get information on the history of the school, details on the program and contact the magnet lead teachers at the school for more information.
  • Pinpoint the schools in which you are most interested. Check those websites often. They will begin posting virtual tours, virtual meet and greets, virtual Q & A sessions and locations for viewing informational videos.
  • The district Magnet website will also feature a list of upcoming virtual magnet events. These are great because you can get a sampling of a bunch of different schools—like a magnet buffet!)
  • Make sure you know how to apply. The district magnet office will provide information session focused on the application process as well as overviews of magnet education in the district. Those will be posted on the magnet website.

Now that you’ve done your homework, you are ready for the magnet window to open on Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. The window remains open until Dec. 11. Seats are lottery-based for elementary and middle school magnets and criteria-based for high school magnets.

In case you’re still on the fence about checking out our amazing magnets – here are a few fast facts:

  • 61% of all district National Merit Semifinalists are from magnet schools
  • HCPS Magnet Schools make up roughly 11% of the Nationally Certified Magnet Schools of Excellence;
  • Nearly 82% of HCPS Magnet Schools were awarded an Excellence of Distinction National award by Magnet Schools of America.

As always, the Office of Student Planning and Placement is here to help. Call with questions at (813) 272-4692 weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

*Originally published in the October 2020 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

Related stories you may love:

Navigating the Private School Tour in 2020: Tips from Local Experts

A Local Boarding School: A Great Option During Uncertain Times

Tampa Bay Parenting’s Education Directory: Find the Perfect School for Your Child 



Laura Cross
Laura Cross
Hillsborough County Public Schools.

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