CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The application process for the Charleston County choice and magnet schools is at a halt due to possible changes in the way people apply.
The Charleston County School District is looking at making changes to the way people apply for choice and magnet schools, but while they are deciding on the next move, no applications are being processed and new ones cannot be started.
Andy Pruitt, the CCSD Director of Communications, says that’s because good things are in the works.
“There was a presentation to the board (in December) about recommendations to revamp or change the school choice application process and overall school choice in general. They passed those. But now what’s the priority, what needs to be done for the upcoming school year, what’s feasible,” Pruitt says.
Pruitt says there are about ten changes up for discussion in the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, but that doesn’t mean all of them will be recommended. The potential alterations are listed below.
- For magnet schools with entrance criteria - (a) to avoid the appearance of bias, use outside judges/adjudicators, including teachers rom other schools (b) ensure that entrance qualification expectations/rubrics are communicated to all parents and teachers,
- Examine all partial magnet school applicants and consider eliminating programs with low enrollment and/or applications,
- Choice Application process - add a "paper option" to the online process, and provide assistance to parents as needed,
- Expand the "choice fair" to include all schools,
- Develop a standard for courses to be offered at all middle schools,
- Strengthen the "core curriculum" at every school - budget for and provide additional support to help prepare talented students from high poverty schools to audition for schools with entrance criteria (arts and academics),
- For schools with entrance criteria and high waiting lists of qualified applicants, consider expanding to a second campus to add opportunities for qualifying students,
- Review practices at all magnet schools and make changes as warranted to practices such as (but not limited to) class size, continuation, re-auditioning,
- Consider the 1998 recommendation from the Harvard study that stated “magnet schools which require a standardized test as part of the admissions process should use a minimum acceptance score which is not greater than the 65th percentile. Accommodating the top third of the students in the school system as eligible for the magnet school enrollment would not harm the admissions process," and
- For consideration during budget discussion: Examine all magnet and choice transportation plans to ensure that all eligible students receive transportation as needed.
Pruitt says he knows parents want to get a head start on securing their child’s upcoming school year, but is asking for patience.
“Can we do a better job? Yes we can. Can we be more thorough? Yes we can. When you are going to open more things up, when you want to be thorough it takes time which is why this is taking longer,” Pruitt says. “If they’re concerned or nervous, the best thing is to reach out, you may not get the exact answer right now, but we can walk you through what to anticipate.”
These alterations will be put to a vote in the board meeting on Jan. 28.
If they are passed, the quick changes such as paper applications will be executed immediately and the plans for other alterations that may take longer will get started.