Wake Ed

Wake County drops use of numbered wait lists for magnet schools

Amelia Ewens, 5, listens to a Emily Hardee, Brentwood Magnet Elementary School's Magnet coordinator, left, talk during a Magnet Mini Fair at Farmington Woods Elementary School in Cary, N.C., Wednesday, January 6, 2016. Ewens was at the fair with her parents Samantha and Andy Ewens.
Amelia Ewens, 5, listens to a Emily Hardee, Brentwood Magnet Elementary School's Magnet coordinator, left, talk during a Magnet Mini Fair at Farmington Woods Elementary School in Cary, N.C., Wednesday, January 6, 2016. Ewens was at the fair with her parents Samantha and Andy Ewens. ehyman@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school system is changing the way it handles finding seats for students who didn’t get their top choice for a magnet school.

In recent years, people who didn’t get their top magnet choice were assigned a number on a wait list in case extra seats opened up at that school. But this year, families who don’t get their first choice when the magnet results are posted Feb. 5 will be placed in an unnumbered applicant pool waiting for seats to open up.

According to Wake’s website, the numbered wait lists were dropped “because facility utilizations change with each application placement.”

So if seats become available later, Wake says “selection from the applicant pool will be done by staff using criteria related to equitable facility utilization and the original selection priorities.”

One result of the change is that families who don’t get their top choice won’t know where they stand before the applicant pools are processed in the spring to fill any open seats.

But Tamani Anderson Powell, Wake’s director of marketing and communications for magnet schools, said the numbered wait lists didn’t provide guarantees either. She said that depending on what seats opened up at a particular grade level, people who were further down on the wait list might be seated first.

Some parents complained that even though they were number one or two on the wait list that their children didn’t get in.

Wake’s magnet application period is now live and runs to Jan. 22. Go to https://magnet.wcpss.net/apply/ to submit an application.

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