Monday, December 18, 2017
Education

Public schools: Application for special programs begins Wednesday

In three days, the Pinellas County school system will start accepting applications for special programs for the 2014-15 academic year. The offerings include magnet, fundamental and high school career programs. The district refers to these as "application programs."

This deadline does not apply to those who plan to attend their regular zoned school next year. Students already registered with the district automatically receive notices about zoned school assignments. New zoned school students, including incoming kindergarten students, can register this spring.

For more information about application programs, consult this guide or go to pcsb.org and download a copy of the District Application Programs Guide for 2014-15.

Before you go online to apply

• Have or get 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 and password are needed per family.

Apply online between Wednesday and Jan. 17

• Go to 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.

• All high school magnet programs — and some middle school magnet programs — have entrance criteria. (See the District Application Programs Guide at pcsb.org for details.) Deliver all documentation of eligibility by the close of the school day on Jan. 17.

Check status/accept invitation

• Log on to the Student Reservation System (SRS) between Feb. 6-13 to accept one program invitation. If you get an invitation and do not accept 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 (except the Center for Gifted Studies).

• Families can change their selection before Feb. 13.

• You don't need to accept waiting list spots.

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 preferred 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.

• Hundreds of students apply to programs for which they are not eligible. Check first to see if you're eligible. A call to the school will give you the answer.

Get answers

Applying for a special program can get tricky. How does the lottery work? What are the rules if my child lands on a waiting list? The district lays it all out in a manual called Procedures for District Application Programs. To find it, visit pcsb.org. In the middle of the home page, under the heading "Latest News," click on "Explore magnet, fundamental, and career-focused District Application Programs." On the next page, click on the link for "District Application Programs Website." On the next page, near the bottom, click on the title of the manual.

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