Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Increased demand for Pinellas specialty schools means fewer students are getting their choice

ST. PETERSBURG — This week, thousands of parents who applied to magnet or fundamental schools in Pinellas County found out whether their children got in.

As usual, there were winners and losers. This year, because of unprecedented interest in these schools, there were more disappointed parents than in years past. At some schools, even siblings of students already at the school didn't get a seat.

"We pretty much thought she would be a shoo-in to get into Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle because (her brother) is there," said Lisa Brave, mother of Sierra, 10, who is No. 24 on the school's gifted studies wait list and No. 65 on the fundamental school's wait list. "Now I've got to bite my nails and lips and wait and hope and pray that she moves up on the wait list."

There were 791 applicants for Thurgood's 306 openings. The gifted portion of the school had 277 applicants for 142 spots.

Thurgood Marshall principal Dallas Jackson said it is likely that siblings of current students will get in once students who were accepted at more than one school make their choices and free up spots.

But in the meantime, there is uncertainty for Brave and hundreds of other parents.

Though the district has added more seats at fundamental schools in recent years, parents are still clamoring for more seats at these schools.

"My main issue is the fact there really aren't many spots for those of us who don't already have a child at these schools," said Tricia Bates of Palm Harbor, whose daughter didn't get into kindergarten at Curtis Fundamental Elementary School in Dunedin.

We asked district officials to explain the selection process:

What was the process for the lottery? Who was given preference?

In elementary schools, first preference was given to the children of professional staff at that school. After that, students who have an older sibling at that school were given preference. Then it was opened up to other applicants.

For middle schools, first priority was given to students from feeder schools. After that, children of professional staff at the schools got slots, followed by siblings of current students.

If I'm 100 on the wait list, is there a chance I could still get in?

Yes, but it depends on the school and the grade level. Students entering kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades tend to have the best chance to move up the list. Students trying to get into fifth or eighth grade have the least chance, since those students tend to stay put so that they can guarantee themselves a spot in a magnet or fundamental middle or high school.

To find out more, you should contact the school to find out the history of the wait list. Many will tell you how many spots have been accepted and where you might stand. But ultimately, it's up to you to make the decision that best fits your child. Some parents may choose to gamble away a guaranteed spot at one elementary magnet school in hopes of making it into another via the wait list.

Do I need to do anything to secure my spot on the wait list?

Yes. If you do not log in and accept a position by Monday, even if it is a spot on a wait list, it will be as if you never even applied. You must accept one of your choices. If you accept a position at one school, you will lose your spots at the other schools and be removed from any wait lists.

When can I find out what my final wait list number is?

On March 10, you can call the school to find your wait list number. Between March 10 and March 17, the district will give students with siblings who got into magnet or fundamental schools for the first time the option to register that sibling preference with the district. Those siblings then move to the top of the list. On March 18, schools will begin making invitations to students on the wait lists.

Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at or 727-893-8640.

Increased demand for Pinellas specialty schools means fewer students are getting their choice 03/02/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 12:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco targets repeat offenders with new code enforcement tactic

    Local Government

    HOLIDAY — The out-of-date and overpriced gasoline cost on the sign outside — $2.69 for a gallon of regular — is the first indication that business isn't booming.

    Basil A. Almamluk is the owner of the closed Pure Gas station in Holiday, which has emerged as a poster child for a new "high return'' county code enforcement effort. The property on Mile Stretch Drive is littered with discarded furniture and other trash. [Photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Pasco tax roll shows increase, but so, too, are budget requests

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's tax roll grew by more than 5 percent in 2016, but it's a figure that likely would require local government budget writers to trim proposed spending requests.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
New construction accounted for $693.5 million in taxable property values being added to the Pasco County tax rolls in 2016, according to preliminary estimates released by Property Appraiser Gary Joiner. Overall, the property tax roll grew more than 5 percent, according to the preliminary numbers.

  3. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  5. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.