Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In Pinellas, neighborhood schools are options, too

There's a movement in St. Petersburg to rally families around their neighborhood school instead of beelining toward the Pinellas County school district's exclusive magnet and fundamental options.

But for many families, another neighborhood school that isn't the one they're zoned for is the right choice.

More than 1,400 students opted for and were granted a special assignment request this school year. The process allows families to apply to another neighborhood school as long as there is space.

However, there are no busing options for special assignment requests. It is up to the family to arrange for transportation. Students granted a special assignment request can stay at the assigned school through the highest grade level.

Northeast High in St. Petersburg was the most coveted of all the neighborhood schools with 61 granted special assignment requests. Carwise Middle in Palm Harbor was the most requested out of the middle schools with 41 requests and Plumb Elementary in Clearwater had the most of any elementary school with 38 requests.

There were five schools that didn't grant any special assignment requests — either because they were at capacity or they didn't receive any requests. They are: Bay Point Elementary, Leila Davis Elementary, Melrose Elementary and Sandy Lane Elementary.

Student assignment requests are often popular options for families who did not win a spot into a magnet or fundamental program.

The initial SAR application period will run from April 2, 2018 to April 16, 2018 for parents to request a non-zoned school for the 2018-2019 school year, according to the district's website.

A late SAR application period will be held from April 23, 2018 through July 31, 2018. Late requests are placed at the bottom of the request list in the order in which they are received.

SARs are granted three times before the start of the 2018-19 school year. The first round of requests are granted in May before the end of the school year, the second batch is reviewed and granted before the end of June and the last grants will be given before the end of July.

For more information on the district's special assignment request process, click here.

The district has partnered with the University of North Florida's Public Opinion Research Laboratory to survey more than 1,000 families to find out what information families would like to know about their local neighborhood school and how they would like that information communicated to them.

[Correction: East Lake Middle is exclusively a magnet school, not a zoned neighborhood school.]

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