In the coming days, the Pinellas County School District will start accepting applications for special programs for the 2016-17 academic year. The offerings include magnet, fundamental and high school career programs. Pinellas calls these "district application programs." This process does not apply to those who plan to enter a regular zoned school next year. Incoming kindergarten students can register for a zoned school under a separate process starting Jan. 11 (visit pcsb.org/KG for information). Other students new to the district can register for a zoned school at pcsb.org/registration or by calling the student assignment office at (727) 588-6210. Students already registered with the district will automatically receive notices about zoned school assignments for the sixth and ninth grades. For more information about district application programs, consult this guide or visit pcsb.org/choice and download a copy of the District Application Programs Guide for 2016-17. Before you go online to apply • Make sure you have a user ID and password. If you misplaced yours or don't have them yet, you can get them at any nearby school with a photo ID. Only one user ID-password set is needed per family. Apply online Jan. 6-15 • Go to reservation.pcsb.org and log on to the Student Reservation System, known as SRS, using your user ID and password. • Choose up to five programs and rank them in order of preference. You can do this any time during the application period; your odds are not affected whether you go early or later. • Note that many programs, marked in this guide with an asterisk, have entrance criteria. Many accept applicants who live only in a certain part of the county. Some programs require that families submit documentation. Call individual programs for information on criteria and documentation. And consult the District Application Programs Guide at pcsb.org/choice for a map of application zones. Deliver any required documentation by the close of the school day on Jan. 19. Check status/accept invitation • Log on to the Student Reservation System from Feb. 3 to 10 to see if you received a program invitation. • You may accept one invitation. If you get an invitation and don't accept it during this time, your application becomes invalid. • Once a program's invitation is accepted, the student's name will be removed from all other lists, including waiting lists (except the Center for Gifted Studies). • Families can change their selection before midnight Feb. 10. • You don't need to accept waiting list spots. Glossary Application areas: Although most programs are open to students who live anywhere in the county, several are limited to students in their designated application areas. Application areas are defined by a grouping of middle school and high school zones. Consult the District Application Programs Guide at pcsb.org/choice for a list of the areas. Fundamental programs: These programs provide a structured environment and a "back-to-basics" approach that includes daily homework, stricter dress and required parental involvement. Most fundamentals encompass entire schools. Fundamental programs at Boca Ciega and Dunedin high schools are "schools within schools." Magnet programs: These are programs centered on themes such as visual and performing arts, advanced technologies, wellness and medicine, sciences, and technology. Many magnet programs have entrance criteria. Entrance criteria: Some programs require applicants to meet certain requirements. Each of these programs is identified with an asterisk in this guide. For information on requirements, call the program or consult a manual called Procedures for District Application Programs, available at pcsb.org/choice. Zoned school: These are designated schools for each student in the district based on the residence of the student. Students rising from elementary to middle school or from middle to high school will automatically be sent a notice of their zoned school assignment. Incoming kindergarteners and other new students must register with the district to be assigned a zoned school. Kindergarten registration begins Jan. 11. Transportation Arterial bus service (which operates on main roads with a limited number of stops) is available for students in district programs who live more than 2 miles from their school, with these exceptions: • Parents of fundamental elementary students and most fundamental middle school students must provide their own transportation. • Arterial bus transportation is provided for Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School. • Students entering the fundamental programs at Osceola, Boca Ciega and Dunedin high schools will receive arterial transportation within the boundaries of the high school application areas. • Gulf Beaches and Kings Highway elementary schools have limited transportation areas. Gulf Beaches families who live in the school zones for Azalea, Bear Creek or 74th Street elementaries will be eligible for transportation. So will Kings Highway families who live in the zones for Belleair, Dunedin, Sandy Lane or Skycrest elementaries. Avoid these mistakes • Every year, some families apply for a program but fail to check later to see if they've been invited to one. Or they check back but fail to accept the invitation. It's a two-step process — apply, then accept. • Students in "feeder" schools get priority consideration to attend the school at the next level — such as a fundamental elementary student applying to get into a fundamental middle school. But the preference is not automatic. You still have to apply. • Every year, hundreds of students apply to programs for which they are not eligible, thus wasting one of their five choices. Check first to see if your student is eligible. A call to the school will give you a quick answer.