Tuesday, July 18, 2000

School signups may give more time

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Parents interested in signing their children up for one of Cincinnati's 12 magnet school programs may be able to visit schools and apply throughout November.

        The plan is one of the possibilities being considered in place of the mad-dash “Super Saturday” of years past — when parents rushed to registration sites to snag available spaces in specific programs.

        Possible plans presented to members of Cincinnati's Board of Education program committee Monday call for registration to take place at each school, rather than at central locations.

        “This means the parent goes directly to the school to enroll,” Associate Superintendent Kathleen Ware said. “They may get on a waiting list.”

        But nothing is final, Ms. Ware said.

        A committee of parents, teachers, administrators and community members is still ironing out recommendations. That committee was formed to study enrollment options after plans for a lottery were not acceptable to many parents.

        Final suggestions could be ready in about two weeks. Any changes approved by the board will be communicated to parents through letters and public service announcements, Ms. Ware said.

        The draft calls for:

        • A school fair in October, so parents can get information about each magnet program.

        • Siblings and automatic enrollments (such as an elementary Paideia student at Woodford moving up to the junior high Paideia program at Shroder) enroll in October.

        • Other students could enroll in November.

        • A system to identify the date and time each student tried to enroll.

        • Districtwide computerized system to prevent enrollment at more than one site.

        The changes would be required if the board passes the 2000-2001 budget, which eliminates the district's centralized magnet office, said board member Sally Warner, program committee chairwoman.

        Cutting that office saves the district $150,000 and means the 28 magnet schools would handle registration.

        Of the district's 44,292 students, about 14,000 attend magnet schools.

        T Cincinnati's magnet schools — created in the 1970s as a desegregation tool — introduced parental choice into the equation.

        The programs are extremely popular.

        On Feb. 5, when students enrolled for the 2000-2001 school year, 1,134 applications were processed, and 745 names were placed on waiting lists.


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