Every year around this time, Pinellas County Schools invites families to apply for programs that go beyond what is offered at regular zoned schools. The application period began Jan. 9 and ends Jan. 29. New this year: Applications must be filled out online. Here are some questions and answers to help navigate the process:
What is the purpose of the application period?
This is when Pinellas families can apply to get into a school with special programs that their regular zoned schools do not offer. These programs come in many forms: fundamental schools, magnet schools, magnet programs housed within regular schools, "area magnets," high school career academies and high school centers of excellence. Unlike zoned schools, these programs are open to students throughout the county or a large area of the county.
How do I find out about these programs?
By attending school discovery nights, consulting the St. Petersburg Times' special section "School Search" (go to links.tampabay.com) or the district's 2010-11 Program Guide, available at any school or at pcsb.org. Go to the box titled "pcsNEWS" and click on the link to the guide.
What if I missed a discovery night? Can I still visit a school?
Yes. Most schools will arrange a tour if you call ahead.
How do I apply?
All applications must be completed online, a change this year. Parents must obtain a ParentCONNECTxp ID and password to apply. You can get the ID and password from any school, but be sure to bring a photo ID with you. You need only one ID and password per family. Once you have the user ID and password, log onto pcsb.org. Click on the green "Student Reservation System" button on the right and follow the instructions. Many middle and high school programs have eligibility criteria and require students to submit additional documentation by Feb. 1.
Is there any advantage to applying early?
No. Applications submitted by the Jan. 29 deadline are considered equally and not first come, first serve.
Can I apply to more than one program?
How do I know if my child has been accepted into a special program?
You MUST log on to the "Student Reservation System" between March 1 and 8. Your decision must be made by March 8. You won't receive anything in the mail.
What if my child is invited to more than one program?
You may choose only one program. Once you've selected a school, your child's name will automatically be erased from other lists, including waiting lists.
Does my child lose the current seat by applying?
No. Only if you accept an invitation.
My child did not get invited to a program, but landed on several waiting lists. What do I do?
If your child is on a waiting list, there is no need to take action. Your child will stay on the list until you accept an invitation to a program. Once you accept the invitation, your child's name will be erased from the other lists. Waiting lists for elementary and middle school programs stay in place for the entire 2010-11 school year. Waiting lists for high school programs expire on the 11th day of the second semester.