Parents, students to learn more about CMS magnet options

It’s a new year – and that means another chance for students looking to explore new program options in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to enter the district’s first lottery.

The annual CMS Options Fair, previously known as the district’s magnet fair, will take place Jan. 11, a Saturday, at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, 1430 Alleghany St. The event will kick off the district’s first lottery for the 2014-15 school year and will provide information from participating schools on upcoming magnet and career and technical education programs, as well as all early college and middle college programs. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The district will offer more than 40 different program options for students in Mecklenburg County this year, an increase over the 37 programs offered at last year’s fair, Scott McCully, the executive director of student placement, said.

“We are really pleased to offer more options to families,” McCully said. “This is our big event. It’s a fantastic opportunity for families to just come and get some basic information about their options. CMS staff will be there to help with the process, too.”

The CMS Board of Education recently approved new programs and options for students across the district, including two new programs that will be offered to students in south Mecklenburg County. That includes a partial science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, magnet program at McClintock Middle School in south Charlotte and expansion of the Central Piedmont Community College’s middle college program at the Levine Campus in Matthews.

The programs are in response to CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison’s call to offer more program options for parents and students and help combat long waiting lists of students at other magnet and middle college programs.

“Certainly we are responding to the demand out there in our community. There is certainly a variety in the new programs that were approved by our board,” McCully said. “Now, I think there is something at each level that hopefully addresses the need at each level, as well.”

McCully said the McClintock program has been in the works since fall 2012 with the help of teacher David Taylor, a leader in the region for his classroom work in robotics. The program will pull about 100 students from the green transportation zone, which includes parts of south Charlotte, Matthews and Mint Hill. Currently zoned McClintock Middle School students will have the opportunity to participate in the program, as well, though the program will start next year with just sixth grade.

“That’s a brand new option in an area where we don’t have a lot of other magnet programs,” McCully said.

About 30 students at Cato Middle College will make the transition to the new middle college at the Levine Campus this January. But for the 2014-15 school year, they’ll have the capacity for 200 students, including 100 eleventh-graders for Levine and 100 eleventh-graders that will continue middle college at the Harper Campus in the 2015-16 school year.

“Having that extra exposure with that project being on the 2013 bond and of course the unique partnership we have with CPCC, which has been spectacular – I think there is lots of excitement, and we are going to be working really hard to get more about that program.”

The first lottery period will run from Jan. 11 to Feb. 11, and the process will be totally online this year. Every student who is eligible to participate will need to have his or her student ID and pin number ready, McCully said. Brand new students who have already enrolled and current students will receive a student assignment letter with directions on how to proceed. Call the magnet office at 980-343-5030 or visit for more information about current magnet programs. Call 980-343-5685 for more information about the CTE or early and middle college programs.

CMS leaders will begin discussions in January on new programs for the 2015-16 school year, McCully said.

“We’re working to and working through options that would provide additional seats for more students. We’re using existing assets, like old buildings, to incorporate unique programming,” McCully said. “If there is a way we can continue to explore options to expand to provide additional seats for families, we’re going to do it.”


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